Rickettsialpox is a relatively mild disease caused by a member of the bacterial family called Rickettsia. Rickettsialpox causes rash, fever, chills, heavy sweating, headache, eye pain (especially when exposed to light), weakness, and achy muscles.
Like other members of the family of Rickettsia, the bacteria causing rickettsialpox live in mice. Tiny mites feed on these infected mice, thus acquiring the organism. When these mites feed on humans, the bacteria can be transmitted.
Rickettsialpox occurs mostly within cities. In the United States, the disease has cropped up in such places as New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. It has also been identified in Russia, Korea, and Africa.
Causes and symptoms
The specific bacteria responsible for rickettsialpox is called Rickettsia akari. A person contracts this bacteria through the bite of an infected mite. After a person has been bitten by an infected mite, there is a delay of about 10 days to three weeks prior to the onset of symptoms.
The first symptom is a bump which appears at the site of the original bite. The bump (papule) develops a tiny, fluid-filled head (vesicle). The vesicle sloughs away, leaving a crusty black scab in its place (eschar). In about a week, the patient develops a fever, chills, heavy sweating, headache, eye pain (especially when exposed to light), weakness, and achy muscles. The fever rises and falls over the course of about a weak. A bumpy rash spreads across the body. Each individual papule follows the same progression: papule, then vesicle, then eschar. The rash does not affect the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet.
Most practitioners are able to diagnose rickettsialpox simply on the basis of its rising and falling fever, and its characteristic rash. Occasionally, blood will be drawn and tests performed to demonstrate the presence of antibodies (immune cells directed against specific bacterial agents) which would confirm a diagnosis of rickettsialpox.
Because rickettsialpox is such a mild illness, some practitioners choose to simply treat the symptoms (giving acetaminophen for fever and achiness, pushing fluids to avoid dehydration ). Others will give their patients a course of the antibiotic tetracycline, which will shorten the course of the illness to about one to two days.
Prognosis for full recovery from rickettsialpox is excellent. No deaths have ever been reported from this illness, and even the skin rash heals without scarring.
As with all mite- or tick-borne illnesses, prevention includes avoidance of areas known to harbor the insects, and/or careful application of insect repellents. Furthermore, because mice pass the bacteria on to the mites, it is important to keep mice from nesting in or around residences.
Eschar— A crusty, blackish scab.
Papule— A bump on the skin.
Vesicle— A fluid-filled head on a papule.
"Rickettsialpox." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/rickettsialpox
"Rickettsialpox." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Retrieved April 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/rickettsialpox
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.
rickettsialpox: see rickettsia.
"rickettsialpox." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/rickettsialpox
"rickettsialpox." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/rickettsialpox