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Rickettsial Disease Transmission, The Spotted Fevers, Rickettsial Typhus Diseases, PreventionNonpathogenic rickettsia

Rickettsia are a group of bacteria that cause a number of serious human diseases, including the spotted fevers and typhus. Rod- or sphere-shaped, rickettsia lack both flagella (whip-like organs that allow bacteria to move) and pili (short, flagella-like projections that help bacteria adhere to host cells). Specific species of rickettsia include Rickettsia rickettsii, which causes the dangerous Rocky Mountain spotted fever; R. akari, which causes the relatively mild rickettsial pox; R. prowazekii, which causes the serious disease epidemic typhus; R. typhi, the cause of the more benign endemic or rat typhus; and R. tsutsugamushi, the cause of scrub typhus.

Not all rickettsia cause disease. Some species, such as R. parkeri and R. montana, normally live inside certain species of ticks and are harmless to the insect. These rickettsia are nonpathogenic (they do not cause disease) to humans as well.

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