Rickettsia prowazekii is an intracellular, gram-negative coccobacillus. It is an obligate parasite. R. prowazekii belongs to the genus Rickettsia and is the causative agent of epidemic typhus. The genus Rickettsia is composed of gram-negative bacteria. Rickettsiae are the closest known relatives of mitochondria in eukaryotic cells.
The vector for epidemic typhus is the human body louse. R. prowazekii multiplies in the gut epithelium of the body louse and explodes into the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, eventually killing the body louse in the process. In this regard, R. prowazekii is unique because no other known members of Rickettsia kill their vector. The R. prowazekii remain viable in the dead louse as well as in the louse feces. Viable R. prowazekii have been detected in dried feces of the body louse for up to several months. It is the only member of the genus Rickettsia to cause a latent infection, manifesting years to decades later, known as Brill-Zinsser disease (BZD). BZD was first described in 1913 and occurs because of reactivation of R. prowazekii.Article Author: Sami Akram
Article Editor: Vidhya Prakash
PubMed Link: Rickettsia Prowazekii (Epidemic Typhus)