SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.94 issue1Follicular vitiligo: dermatoscopic features of a new subtype of vitiligoAnswer from the authors of the article “Skin manifestations of tick bites in humans” to Dr. Stefan Vilges de Oliveira and Dr. Álvaro A. Faccini-Martínez author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links


Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia

Print version ISSN 0365-0596On-line version ISSN 1806-4841

An. Bras. Dermatol. vol.94 no.1 Rio de Janeiro Jan./Feb. 2019 


Rickettsia parkeri spotted fever and toxicosis by Ornithodoros: other tick bite-related entities to be known by dermatologists

Stefan Vilges de Oliveira1

Álvaro A. Faccini-Martínez2

1Department of Collective Health, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia (MG), Brazil.

2Postgraduate Program in Infectious Diseases, Health Science Center, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Vitória (ES), Brazil.

Dear editor,

We have read with great interest the recent review written by Haddad et al. (2018), regarding skin manifestations caused by tick bites, published in Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia, in which the authors propose a clinical classification of these manifestations considering "primary lesions" (PL) and "secondary lesions" (SL).1 To their list, we would like to suggest the inclusion of two other emerging clinical entities, still little known to health professionals in Brazil: Rickettsia parkeri spotted fever (RPSF) as a SL and toxicosis by Ornithodoros as a PL.

RPSF occurs predominantly in Atlantic rainforest areas of South, Southeast, and Northeast Brazilian regions. R. parkeri strain Atlantic rainforest is the causative agent of this condition, which is transmitted to humans by Amblyomma ovale ticks. (Figure 1A).2 Clinical manifestations of R. parkeri infection tend to be less severe than R. rickettsii rickettsiosis, associated with fever, inoculation eschar, rash, lymphadenopathy, malaise, headache, myalgia, and arthralgia.2 Inoculation eschar (main sign) is defined as a painless ulcer lesion with a crusty-necrotic center and a surrounding erythematous halo, measuring 0.5 - 2 cm in diameter, which indicates the site of the tick bite (Figure 1B).2,3 Doxycycline is the drug of choice for all suspected spotted fever cases, regardless of age group and disease severity.2

Figure 1: A - A female of Amblyomma ovale (Source: Álvaro A. Faccini-Martínez). B - Inoculation eschar in a patient with spotted fever caused by Rickettsia parkeri strain Atlantic rainforest. (B - 1) 12 days after the tick bite (DATB). (B - 2) 14 DATB. (B - 3) 23 DATB. (B - 4) 30 DATB (Source: Krawczak, et al., 2016(3)

Ornithodoros ticks, in turn, is a genus in the soft-bodied tick family (Argasidae) that has gained medical importance for their capacity to cause toxicosis,4 or for being borreliosis (relapsing fever) vectors.5 These ticks are natural parasites of mammals (mainly rodents) and birds living in caves, tree hollows, nests, and attics of houses. Ticks become infected when they feed on animals (primary hosts) that carry the bacterium in their blood. The disease is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected ticks.6 In Brazil, toxicosis in humans has been reported in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais, Goiás, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte, and Ceará, with Ornithodoros brasiliensis, O. mimon, and O. rietcorreai as the related tick species (Figure 2A).7-9 The most common clinical manifestations included local pruritus, edema and erythema, blister lesions, and systemic involvement (transient fever, dyspnea, and malaise) (Figure 2B-C).4,7 Topical or systemic corticosteroids and antihistamines may be used as treatment options.4

Figure 2: A - A female of Ornithodoros rietcorreai associated to human parasitism and toxicosis, collected in residences in the urban area of Russas, State of Ceará (Source: Stefan Vilges de Oliveira). B - Skin lesion (heel) by Ornithodoros brasiliensis bite, State of Rio Grande do Sul (Source: José Reck Jr., et al., 2013 ) C - Bullous lesion on the wrist caused by O. mimon bite, State of Minas Gerais (Source: Labruna, et al., 2014(8); by permission of Oxford University Press journal)  

Both clinical entities presented here should be considered in the medical evaluation of tick bite-associated lesions. In such cases, dermatologists may contribute to the diagnosis of these diseases.

*Work performed at the Department of Collective Health, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia (MG), Brazil; Health Sciences Center, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Vitória (ES), Brazil.

Financial support: None.


1 Haddad V Jr, Haddad MR, Santos M, Cardoso JLC. Skin manifestations of tick bites in humans. An Bras Dermatol. 2018;93:251-5. [ Links ]

2 Faccini-Martínez ÁA, de Oliveira SV, Cerutti Junior C, Labruna MB. Febre maculosa por Rickettsia parkeri no Brasil: Condutas de vigilância epidemiológica, diagnóstico e tratamento. J. Health Biol Sci. 2018;6:299-312 [ Links ]

3 Krawczak FS, Muñoz-Leal S, Guztzazky AC, Oliveira SV, Santos FC, Angerami RN, et al. Rickettsia sp. strain Atlantic rainforest infection in a patient from a spotted feverendemic area in Southern Brazil. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2016;95:551-3. [ Links ]

4 McGinley-Smith DE, Tsao SS. Dermatoses from ticks. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003;49:363-92. [ Links ]

5 Muñoz-Leal S, Faccini-Martínez ÁA, Costa FB, Marcili A, Mesquita ETKC, Marques EP Jr, et al. Isolation and molecular characterization of a relapsing fever Borrelia recovered from Ornithodoros rudis in Brazil. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2018;9:864-71 [ Links ]

6 Estrada-Peña A, Jongejan F. Ticks feeding on humans: a review of records on human-biting Ixodoidea with special reference to pathogen transmission. Exp Appl Acarol. 1999;23:685-715. [ Links ]

7 Reck J, Marks FS, Guimarães JA, Termignoni C, Martins JR. Epidemiology of Ornithodoros brasiliensis (mouro tick) in the southern Brazilian highlands and the description of human and animal retrospective cases of tick parasitism. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2013;4:101-9. [ Links ]

8 Labruna MB, Marcili A, Ogrzewalska M, Barros-Battesti DM, Dantas-Torres F, Fernandes AA, et al. New records and human parasitism by Ornithodoros mimon (Acari: Argasidae) in Brazil. J Med Entomol. 2014;51:283-7. [ Links ]

9 de Oliveira SV, Bitencourth K, Borsoi ABP, de Freitas FSS, Castelo Branco Coelho G, Amorim M, et al. Human parasitism and toxicosis by Ornithodotos rietcorreai (Acari: Argasidae) in an urban area of Northeastern Brazil. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2018. [ Links ]

Received: April 24, 2018; Accepted: July 26, 2018

Mailing Address: Stefan Vilges de Oliveira. E-mail:

Conflict of interest: None.


Stefan Vilges de Oliveira


Approval of the final version of the manuscript; conception and planning of the study; elaboration and writing of the manuscript; Obtaining, analyzing and interpreting the data; critical review of the literature; and critical review of the manuscript

Álvaro A. Faccini-Martínez


Approval of the final version of the manuscript; conception and planning of the study; elaboration and writing of the manuscript; Obtaining, analyzing and interpreting the data; intellectual participation in the propaedeutic and/or therapeutic approach of the studied cases; critical review of the literature; and critical review of the manuscript

Creative Commons License This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium provided the original work is properly cited.