Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Gastrointestinal and pancreatic lesions and rickettsial infection

M. B. Randall, D. H. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Recent clinical studies have shown a high incidence of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abominal pain in Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), and case reports have documented rickettsial infection and vascular injury in the small intestine, appendix, and gallbladder. To determine the incidence and distribution of Rickettsiae rickettsii and ricketsial lesions that might be the basis for these clinical manifestations of RMSF, tissues that were available from the stomach, small intestine, colon, and pancreas in fetal cases of RMSF were examined. Lesions were identified in pancreatic tissue in 91% of cases and in tissue obtained from the stomach, small intestine, and colon in all cases. Most tissues were judged to be only moderately injured. Organisms of R ricketsii were demonstrated by immunofluorescence in 14 (50%) of 28 cases and, when identified, correlated topographically with the location of vascular injury. These observations support the concept of rickettsial vascular injury of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and pancreas leading to GI signs and symptoms in RMSF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)963-967
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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