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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 May;1166:133-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04529.x.

The science and fiction of emerging rickettsioses.

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Infectious Disease Pathology Branch, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


As newly recognized rickettsial diseases and rickettsial pathogens increase in scope and magnitude, several elements related to the concept of emerging rickettsioses deserve consideration. Newly identified rickettsiae may be mildly pathogenic, or perhaps even nonpathogenic, and have little direct impact on human or animal health, yet nonetheless wield considerable influence on the epidemiology and ecology of historically recognized diseases. In this context "new" rickettsioses provide a lens through which "old" rickettsioses are more accurately represented. Predicting pathogen from nonpathogen is not an exact science, particularly as so few rickettsiae have been broadly accepted as nonpathogenic by contemporary rickettsiologists. However, various factors relating to specific physiologic requirements and molecular machinery of the particular rickettsia, as well as characteristics of its invertebrate host that either position or exclude the rickettsia from infecting a human host, must be considered. Close inspection of mild or atypical forms of historically recognized rickettsioses and a greater emphasis on culture- and molecular-based diagnostic techniques are the keys to identifying future rickettsial agents of disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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