Rickettsialpox is an infection that is passed to humans by the bite of a house mouse mite.
Rickettsia akari is the organism that causes rickettsialpox. The natural host is the house mouse. Humans are accidental hosts who become infected when bitten by an infected mouse mite.
The disease was first recognized in New York City. Now rare in the US, it still occurs in the Mediterranean, Russia, Korea, and South Africa. The incubation time, from mite bite to first symptoms, is 7 to 14 days. The disease is self-limited, which means it usually goes away on its own.
The main symptoms of rickettsialpox are: rashfeverchillsmuscle aches
The site of the bite often develops a black scab about the time fever starts. A red rash with bumps and tiny blisters may appear 2 to 4 days after the fever. The rash covers the entire body, including the palms, soles, and mucous membranes.
Rickettsialpox is caused by the organism R. akari. It is more likely to be passed to humans in crowded and mouse-infested housing conditions.
The best way to prevent rickettsialpox is to control mice and their mites.
The organism can be found in the blood during the early stages of illness. More often the diagnosis is made when antibodies to the organism are detected in the blood.
There are no long term effects from rickettsialpox.
Rickettsialpox is not contagious. But a person living in the same mouse-infested housing is at greater risk of getting the infection.
Antibiotics such as tetracycline, doxycycline, and chloramphenicol can be used to treat rickettsialpox.
Antibiotics may cause stomach upset, diarrhea, or an allergic reaction.
Even without treatment, rickettsialpox is fairly mild and self-limiting. Treatment does make the symptoms go away faster.
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional.
Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, Tierney, 2000
The Merck Manual of Medical Information, 1997