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 scientist specializing in rickettsial diseases is advised, your call will be appropriately forwarded.

Surveillance 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 R. parkeri, R. akari, and Rickettsia 364D.

2020 spotted fever rickettsiosis case definition

Case Report Form

How to Submit Specimens to CDC for Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis Testing

Who May Submit Specimens to CDC

  • State health departments may submit samples to CDC for confirmatory testing or with special permission from the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch.
    • Spotted fever group-level testing is sufficient for disease reporting and routine testing should primarily use options available through commercial or state laboratories.
    • Commercial tests are available for diagnosing SFR infections; however, most do not provide species specificity.

State Health Departments

  • Specimens may be submitted to CDC for testing of rickettsial diseases, including RMSF.
  • For sample submission, please see instructions on the CDC Test Directory.

US Healthcare Providers

  • US healthcare providers should submit specimens through their health department for testing. Do not send specimens directly to CDC.
  • CDC policy requires that specimens be submitted through, or with the approval of, the 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 to the state public health laboratory who is responsible for providing these reports to the primary submitter.

For general questions about RMSF or other rickettsial diseases, please call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636); public health officials or healthcare providers requiring an epidemiologic or clinical consultation will be forwarded appropriately to the epidemiologist on call. If you have questions about reporting a suspect case, please first consult your state health department.

Non-US Healthcare Providers

Non-US healthcare providers should consult CDC prior to submitting specimens for testing. For general questions about RMSF or other rickettsial diseases, please call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or (888-232-6348). For specimen requirements and submission instructions, please see CDC Test Directory.