Northside Health Library

Rickettsial pox


Rickettsial pox is a disease spread by a mite. It causes a chickenpox-like rash on the body.


Rickettsial pox is caused by the bacteria, Rickettsia akari. It is commonly found in the United States in New York City and other city areas. It also has been seen in South Africa, Korea, and Russia.

It is spread by the bite of a mite that lives on mice.


The disease begins at the site of the mite bite as a painless, firm, red lump (nodule). The nodule develops into a fluid-filled blister that bursts and crusts over. This lump may be large -- almost up to an inch wide.

Other symptoms include:

  • Discomfort in bright light (photophobia)
  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle pain (myalgia)
  • Rash that looks like chickenpox
  • Sweating (diaphoresis)

The rash should clear up within a week.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will do an examination to look for a rash similar to the one in chickenpox.

Tests include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Tests of blood serum (serologic studies)


The goal of treatment is to cure the infection. The basic treatment is with the antibiotic doxycycline. Other antibiotics include chloramphenicol and azithromycin.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Full recovery is expected.

Possible Complications

There are usually no complications if the disorder is treated.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if your child has symptoms of rickettsial pox.


Sanitary measures, especially controlling mice and their parasites, will prevent the spread of rickettsial pox.


Raoult D. Rickettsia akari (Rickettsial pox). In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 188.

Review Date: 8/1/2012
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Northside Hospital - Atlanta

1000 Johnson Ferry Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342
(404) 851-8000

Northside Hospital - Cherokee

201 Hospital Road
Canton, GA 30114
(770) 720-5100

Northside Hospital - Forsyth

1200 Northside Forsyth Drive
Cumming, GA 30041
(770) 844-3200

Copyright © 2015 Northside Hospital|Privacy Policy