Query: NC_010263:167450 Rickettsia rickettsii str. Iowa, complete genome Lineage: Rickettsia rickettsii; Rickettsia; Rickettsiaceae; Rickettsiales; Proteobacteria; Bacteria General Information: Causative agent for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. This organism was first identified by Dr. Howard Rickets as the causative agent of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which was originally named for its geographic distribution at the time, it is now known to be widespread throughout the North American continent. This bacterium is an obligate intracellular pathogen that infects primarily the vascular endothelium, and occasionally smooth muscle tissue. It is passed to the human host from a tick bite, and the tick acts as both a natural reservoir and a vector for disease transmission. Once the organism is endocytosed by the host cell, it quickly escapes the phagozome, and replicates intracellularly, causing cell death and tissue damage. The disease is characterized by a spotted rash and has a high mortality rate if left untreated.
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General Information: This organism was isolated from the blood of wild rats and from fleas obtained from wild rats. Transmission of these organisms is often through an insect vector. Once in a host, this intracellular pathogen is internalized by an actin-dependent mechanism, and primarily targets endothelial cells, although other cells can be infected. The proliferation of the vascular endothelium (bacillary angiomatosis) is characterisitic of Bartonella infection and results in multiplication of the bacterium's host cells. Infected macrophages are stimulated to release vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and interleukin 1 beta, both of which promote angiogenesis. Endothelial cells are also stimulated to grow and divide by direct contact with bacterial cells. In addition, programmed cell death (apoptosis) of endothelial cells is inhibited, combatting a common mechanism eukaryotic cells use to deal with bacterial infection. Other pathogenicity factors include pili and outer membrane adhesins for attachment to host cells. This organism is genetically related to Bartonella elizabethae which was isolated from a case of endocarditis in a human.