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For Public Health Officials

How to Contact the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch at CDC

The general public and healthcare providers should first call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) for questions regarding RMSF and other rickettsial diseases. If a consultation with a CDC rickettsial disease expert is needed, your call will be appropriately forwarded.

Case Definition

  • Spotted fever rickettsioses (SFR) are nationally notifiable conditions and cases should be reported to your state or local health department according to local laws.
  • As of January 1, 2010, all SFR cases, including those of RMSF, are reported together in a category called SFR. Most routine laboratory tests are unable to distinguish between RMSF and rickettsial diseases caused by other, antigenically similar spotted fever group Rickettsia species such as parkeri, R. akari, and Rickettsia 364D.

2010 SFR case definition

Case Report Form

  • Confirmed and probable cases of SFR are reported through the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System; states are also encouraged to submit additional information using the tickborne rickettsial disease case report form (CRF).
  • This form collects additional important information that may not otherwise be reported to CDC, such as information on how the diagnosis was made, and whether the patient was hospitalized or died.
  • If a different state-specific form is already used to collect this information, this information may be submitted to CDC in lieu of a CRF.

Tickborne rickettsial disease case report form [PDF – 3 pages]

How to Submit Specimens to CDC for Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis Testing

  • Commercial tests are available for diagnosing SFR infections, however most do not provide species specificity.
  • Samples may be sent to CDC through the state health department for confirmatory testing using indirect immunofluorescence antibody (IFA), immunohistochemical (IHC), polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and cell culture assays with special permission from the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch.

State Health Departments

  • Specimens may be submitted to CDC through, or with the approval of, the state health department for testing of rickettsial pathogens, including R. rickettsii and other SFGR.
  • To coordinate specimen submission, please call 404-639-1075 during business hours (8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., EST).

US Healthcare Providers

  • US health care providers should not submit specimens for testing directly to CDC. Do not send specimens directly to CDC.
  • CDC policy requires that specimens be submitted through, or with the approval of, the healthcare provider’s state health department.
  • Please contact your state health department to assist you with specimen submission and reporting of an infected patient.
  • Final reports of test results are returned by CDC to the state public health laboratory. The state public health laboratory is responsible for providing these reports to the primary submitter.

Who May Submit Specimens to CDC

For general questions about RMSF or other rickettsial diseases, please call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). If you have questions about a suspect case, please first consult your state health department. Healthcare providers requiring an epidemiologic consultation on rickettsial diseases may also call 404-639-1075 during business hours (8:00 – 4:30 EST) or 770-488-7100 after hours.

Non-US Healthcare Providers

Non-US healthcare providers should consult CDC prior to submitting specimens for testing. For general questions about SFR, please call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or (888-232-6348). If you would like to discuss a suspect rickettsial case with CDC, please call 404-639-1075 during business hours (8:00 – 4:30 EST) or 770-488-7100 after hours.

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