Rickettsial infections: A blind spot in our view of neglected tropical diseases
Salje J., Weitzel T., Newton PN., Varghese GM., Day N.
Rickettsial diseases are a group of vector-borne bacterial infections that cause acute febrile illness with potentially severe or fatal complications. These vector-borne diseases are prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide and disproportionately affect poorer communities but are scientifically underrecognized. Despite this, they are not included in the World Health Organization’s list of neglected tropical diseases nor were they mentioned in Peter Hotez’s recent reflections on “What constitutes a neglected tropical disease?” in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases . Here we present the case that rickettsial infections, as an overlooked cause of morbidity, mortality, and economic losses in marginalized populations, should be recognized as neglected tropical diseases. We describe how this oversight is the result of a number of factors and how it negatively impacts patient outcomes. We then propose measures to address the neglect of rickettsial infections in both scientific research and public health interventions.