Rickettsiosis: bacterial disease

Rickettsia is a type of bacteria in the form of threads, cocci and rods. The name rickettsiosis stands for all diseases caused by the bacteria of the genus Rickettsia. Various diseases are transmitted by arthropods and lice.


Rickettsia is a type of bacteria in the form of threads, cocci and rods. This bacterium is found everywhere and can cause a large number of diseases in humans, but also in plants. The bacterium settles in the cytoplasm of the host cells and multiplies there. This bacteria is usually transmitted by arthropods or lice. A related bacterium is the Coxiella burnetti species, which causes the well-known Q fever. This is rarely transmitted by arthropods.


The name rickettsiosis stands for all diseases caused by the bacteria of the genus Rickettsia. This is an acute illness. The symptoms are fever, muscle pain, reduced consciousness and exanthema. Exanthema are rashes on the skin in the form of spots, bumps, lumps or blisters.

Rocky mountain spotted fever

This disease is the most serious type caused by Rickettsia rickettsii. This disease mainly occurs in the western United States, Canada, Mexico and also in South America. In South America this disease is called Sao Paulo fever. The infection occurs via ticks. Research has shown that the disease manifests itself after an infected tick has been on the human skin for six hours.


When someone is infected with this bacteria, they feel generally ill, have a fever and a sore throat. The main symptom is the red rash. This rash is sometimes accompanied by minor bleeding. Furthermore, the patient is tired, has a headache and in severe cases even blindness or deafness may occur. Because blood vessels become clogged, toes and fingers can die because they no longer receive blood. If this disease is not treated, the patient may die.


The treatment consists of administering antibiotics, to which the bacteria are sensitive and die. It is important that you are treated as soon as possible, because this disease can be fatal.

Other diseases

There are other diseases caused by the rickettsia bacteria. These include: typhus: this is transmitted by lice. Endemic typhus resembles common typhus, but is caused by the bacterium rickettsia mooseri and transmitted via lice or fleas. The diseases Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tick Fever are transmitted via ticks. The disease fiévre boutonneuse is also transmitted via ticks. The cause of this is the bacterium Rickettsia conori.

Scrub typhus

Mites also transmit diseases, the most important of which is scrub typhus. This is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia tsutsugamuschi. This disease mainly occurs in Southeast Asia and the Far East. Srub typhus is also called tsutsugamuschi there, which literally means “dangerous insect”. This bacterium lives in mites, which in turn live on rodents and are thus transmitted. Where the mite has bitten itself, an ulcer quickly develops.


The symptoms are generally ill with fever, headache and cough. Furthermore, red eyes and fatigue. At a later stage, a rash develops, which disappears on its own after a few days. The spot where the mite has bitten is dark colored and becomes inflamed. Sometimes pneumonia also occurs. The heart and brain can also be affected. Scrub typhus should not be underestimated: this disease can be fatal if left untreated.


By administering antibiotics the bacteria are eliminated and the patient will recover. However, treatment should not be waited too long.