Rickettsial diseases are a group of infectious diseases caused by a number of different related rickettsia bacteria. Some of the most common infections caused by rickettsial bacteria include typhus, rickettsialpox, Boutonneuse fever, African tick bite fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Flinders Island spotted fever and Queensland tick typhus (Australian tick typhus). Rickettsial diseases are contagious and are usually transmitted by fleas, lice, mites and ticks. Infection may also be caused by breathing in dust containing the bacteria. All the diseases caused by the different rickettsia bacteria have similar symptoms. Therefore, it is sometimes hard to specifically diagnose which type of disease an individuall may have. Diagnosis is made by special laboratory blood tests to determine which type of rickettsial bacteria is present. Common symptoms may include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. It should be noted that symptoms often do not appear until 5-14 days after the initial infection (such as tick or flea bite). Most Ricketsial diseases cause moderate illness. However, if left untreated Rocky Mountain spotted fever and typhus can be potentially fatal. Indivduals with rickettsial infections should be treated in the early stages. Antiobiotics such as doxycycline are usually very effective. Talk with your doctor if you or your child has been diagnosed with a rickettsial infection to decide on the best treatment plan.