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Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Communicable  Diseases Subjects A-Z



Sexually Transmitted Diseases


Disease Reporting

Rocky mountain spotted fever (RMSF) 
and typhus fever group 

(Tickborne rickettsial diseases)

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Rickettsial infections are caused by a variety of bacteria, and are most often transmitted to humans by  infected fleas, lice, mites, and ticks. Rickettsial infections include Rocky mountain spotted fever, typhus fever group, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis. 

Rocky mountain spotted fever (RMSF)

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) belongs to the spotted fever rickettsial group of tickborne infections. RMSF disease is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii, transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and other tick species. Onset of illness begins about 1 week after an infected tick bite. Symptoms of illness include acute onset of fever, headache, malaise, myalgia, nausea, vomiting, rash. Severe illness may involve neurologic symptoms. Clinical laboratory findings may include thrombocytopenia, lymphopenia, leucopenia, and elevated live enzymes. Only 13 cases were reported in Wisconsin between 2007 and 2010. Most of these infections were acquired outside of Wisconsin. 

Typhus fever group (Murine typhus)

Typhus fever is a tickborne rickettsial disease caused by the bacterium Rickettsia typhi, transmitted by fleas (rodents, flying squirrels, other small mammals) and human body lice. Typhus fever cases have been reported among travelers to Asia, Africa, and southern Europe. In the United States, cases have been reported from California, Hawaii, and Texas.

Tickborne infections home

General information

Rocky mountain spotted fever fact sheet - Hmong - Spanish

Prevention and control of tickborne diseases  

Rocky mountain spotted fever - CDC 
Travelers' health  information - CDC  

Information for health professionals

Typhus fever is not notifiable in Wisconsin or nationally reportable, but because of cross-reactivity in serologic testing to spotted fever rickettsial group (including RMSF), investigation of laboratory positive reports may be necessary to rule out RMSF infection.


Wisconsin Local Health Departments - Regional offices - Tribal agencies

Diep Hoang Johnson Vectorborne Disease Epidemiologist
Wisconsin Division of Public Health 
Bureau of Communicable Diseases
(Phone 608-267-0249)  (Fax 608-261-4976)

Last Revised: August 05, 2014