Journal Article

<i>Rickettsia parkeri</i> Rickettsiosis and Its Clinical Distinction from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Christopher D. Paddock, Richard W. Finley, Cynthia S. Wright, Howard N. Robinson, Barbara J. Schrodt, Carole C. Lane, Okechukwu Ekenna, Mitchell A. Blass, Cynthia L. Tamminga, Christopher A. Ohl, Susan L. F. McLellan, Jerome Goddard, Robert C. Holman, John J. Openshaw, John W. Sumner, Sherif R. Zaki and Marina E. Eremeeva

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 47, issue 9, pages 1188-1196
Published in print November 2008 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online November 2008 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI:
Rickettsia parkeri Rickettsiosis and Its Clinical Distinction from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

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Background. Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, a recently identified spotted fever transmitted by the Gulf Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum), was first described in 2004. We summarize the clinical and epidemiological features of 12 patients in the United States with confirmed or probable disease attributable to R. parkeri and comment on distinctions between R. parkeri rickettsiosis and other United States rickettsioses.

Methods. Clinical specimens from patients in the United States who reside within the range of A. maculatum for whom an eschar or vesicular rash was described were evaluated by ⩾1 laboratory assays at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, GA) to identify probable or confirmed infection with R. parkeri.

Results. During 1998–2007, clinical samples from 12 patients with illnesses epidemiologically and clinically compatible with R. parkeri rickettsiosis were submitted for diagnostic evaluation. Using indirect immunofluores-cence antibody assays, immunohistochemistry, polymerase chain reaction assays, and cell culture isolation, we identified 6 confirmed and 6 probable cases of infection with R. parkeri. The aggregate clinical characteristics of these patients revealed a disease similar to but less severe than classically described Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Conclusions. Closer attention to the distinct clinical features of the various spotted fever syndromes that exist in the United States and other countries of the Western hemisphere, coupled with more frequent use of specific confirmatory assays, may unveil several unique diseases that have been identified collectively as Rocky Mountain spotted fever during the past century. Accurate assessments of these distinct infections will ultimately provide a more valid description of the currently recognized distribution, incidence, and case-fatality rate of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

An unnamed, apparently new rickettsia has been repeatedly isolated at the Rocky Mountain Laboratory during the past nine years from specimens of Amblyomma maculatum, a tick of wide distribution in the Southern States…the presumptive evidence from animal experimentation suggests that human infection might be confusingly similar to spotted fever. Parker Ralph R. 1948 [1, p. 146]

Journal Article.  4784 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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