Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a life-threatening tick-transmitted infection, is the most prevalent rickettsiosis in the United States. This zoonosis is firmly entrenched in the tick host, which maintains the rickettsiae in nature by transovarian transmission. Although the incidence of disease flucuates in various regions and nationwide, the problems of a deceptively difficult clinical diagnosis and little microbiologic diagnostic effort persist. Many empiric antibiotic regimens lack antirickettsial activity. There is neither an effective vaccine nor a generally available assay that is diagnostic during the early stages of illness, when treatment is most effective. Microbiology laboratories that offer only the archaic retrospective Weil-Felix serologic tests should review the needs of their patients. Research microbiologists who tackle these challenging organisms have an array of questions to address regarding rickettsial surface composition, structure-function analysis, and pathogenic and immune mechanisms, as well as laboratory diagnosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases