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Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiosis (Including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever)

Report within 24 hours of Diagnosis to the Local Health Department.

Spotted Fever Group Rickettsioses (SFGR) are a group of diseases caused by closely related bacteria spread to people through the bites of infected ticks and mites. In the United States, the most serious and commonly reported SFGR is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) caused by the bite of an infected tick. Less serious spotted fevers include Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis, Pacific Coast Fever and Rickettsialpox. Questions remain about how often the less serious SFGR’s are misdiagnosed as RMSF. RMSF is a rapidly progressing illness which when left untreated can lead to serious complications resulting in death, even in previously healthy persons. Early symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle pain and nausea with rash developing 2-4 days later. Prompt antibiotic treatment at the time that early symptoms develop is the best way to reduce fatal outcomes in patients of all ages. SFGR are not spread from person to person. The most important prevention action is to avoid tick bites by avoiding wooded areas with dense shrubs and leaf litter, wearing protective clothing, using insect repellents, performing tick checks and by mowing lawns and keeping shrubs trimmed.


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Education Materials
Laboratory Testing and Guidance

There are several pathogenic strains of Rickettsia spp. that may impact NJ residents. Clinicians who would like to request species-specific Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiosis testing in whole blood, eschar swab or rash biopsy specimens at PHEL, please see Laboratory Testing Guidance: Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiosis.

Last Reviewed: 3/30/2023