ISOLATION OF RICKETTSIA AKARI FROM ESCHARS OF PATIENTS WITH RICKETTSIALPOX

CHRISTOPHER D. PADDOCK Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch and Infectious Disease Pathology Activity, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; Department of Dermatology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York

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TAMARA KOSS Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch and Infectious Disease Pathology Activity, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; Department of Dermatology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York

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MARINA E. EREMEEVA Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch and Infectious Disease Pathology Activity, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; Department of Dermatology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York

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GREGORY A. DASCH Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch and Infectious Disease Pathology Activity, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; Department of Dermatology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York

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SHERIF R. ZAKI Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch and Infectious Disease Pathology Activity, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; Department of Dermatology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York

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JOHN W. SUMNER Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch and Infectious Disease Pathology Activity, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; Department of Dermatology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York

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Rickettsialpox is a cosmopolitan, mite-borne, spotted fever rickettsiosis caused by Rickettsia akari. The disease is characterized by a primary eschar, fever, and a papulovesicular rash. Rickettsialpox was first identified in New York City in 1946 and the preponderance of recognized cases in the United States continues to originate from this large metropolitan center. The most recently isolated U.S. strain of R. akari was obtained more than a half century ago. We describe the culture and initial characterization of five contemporaneous isolates of R. akari obtained from eschar biopsy specimens from New York City patients with rickettsialpox. This work emphasizes the importance and utility of culture-and molecular-based methods for the diagnosis of rickettsialpox and other eschar-associated illnesses.

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