Doctors stumped by woman’s peculiar rashes, diagnose a rare disease

Doctors were unable to see the cause behind deteriorating condition of 47-year-old woman who was on ventilator for seven days. But the peculiar rashes on palms and soles made doctors to put suspicion about rickettsia


High fever, body pain, low plate late count, low haemoglobin and rashes all over her body were the symptoms that she was experiencing. But the peculiar rashes on her palms and soles made doctors question whether she was suffering from a condition known as suspicion about rickettsia.

Her condition was deteriorating with every passing day and, doctors diagnosed that she was suffering from a rare disorder called ‘rickettsia’.

Dr Abhijit Lodha, a physician at Ruby Hall Clinic, said, “Her liver and kidney function was damaged. Her HB and plate late count was low. It was the peculiar rashes on palms and soles that made us have a high suspicion about rickettsia.”

Rickettsial infections are caused by an unusual type of bacteria that can live only inside the cells of another organism. Most of these infections are spread through ticks, mites, fleas, or lice.

The woman hailing from Ahmednagar district was a teacher by profession. Doctors said that the ticks on dog might have led to the development of rickettsia in the woman who had a dog in her house.

Just after the treatment for rickettsia started, her HB and plate late count started increasing, fever subsided and body ache reduced.

What is rickettsia?

Rickettsia belongs to the family of any group of very small bacteria that include the causative agents of typhus and various other febrile diseases in humans. Like viruses, many of them can only grow inside living cells, and they are frequently transmitted by mites, ticks, or lice.

A member of a group of microorganisms that (like viruses) require other living cells for growth but (like bacteria) use oxygen, have metabolic enzymes and cell walls, and are susceptible to antibiotics.

Rickettsiae cause a series of diseases named for the American pathologist Howard Ricketts who discovered that ticks spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever and then isolated the microorganism responsible for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, typhus, trench fever and other similar conditions from the infecting insects. While in Mexico in 1910 studying a typhus epidemic, ricketts contracted the disease and died at age 39.