What Is Rickettsialpox?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2018
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Rickettsialpox is a type of bacterial disease that is transmitted by infected mites. Symptoms of this condition strongly mimic those of the more familiar childhood disease known as chicken pox and may include rash, fever, and muscle aches. Blood tests are typically performed in order to confirm the diagnosis when rickettsialpox is suspected. Treatment generally consists of the use of antibiotics to destroy the bacteria that causes this disease. Any questions or concerns about rickettsialpox or individualized treatment options should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

The mites that are responsible for the transmission of rickettsialpox are typically found on mice. This sometimes leads to the misconception that the disease is caused by the mice, when in fact in order to contract rickettsialpox, the infected person must be bitten by one of the mites that carries the disease. This disease is particularly rampant in areas that have heavy mice infestations.

The exact progression of rickettsialpox may vary from one person to another, although the general course of the disease is quite predictable. A small lesion appears shortly after the insect bite takes place. Within a week of the bite, the lymph nodes may start to swell, and the infected person may develop a fever. Muscle aches are common, and the patient may begin to sweat, sometimes quite profusely. The next symptom is a blister-type rash that strongly resembles chicken pox and may cause moderate to severe itching.


There are very few potential complications associated with rickettsialpox, and the only medical treatment necessary is usually a round of prescription antibiotics. Over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers can be used if desired, although aspirin should not be given to children without consulting a doctor. Creams and lotions can also be purchased at most pharmacies to help ease the itching associated with the rash. Oral antihistamines may also be useful in controlling the severity of the itching.

It is important to avoid scratching as much as possible, as infection may develop. Adding oatmeal to bath water may help to reduce itching. Lukewarm water is typically recommended, as hot baths or showers may actually increase the severity of the itching associated with this disease. Cool compresses can be used several times per day in order to reduce itching and soothe the skin. If any signs of infection develop or there are any concerns, a doctor should be consulted for further medical evaluation.



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