Recognition and treatment of devastating vasculopathic systemic disorders: Coronavirus disease 2019 and rickettsioses

Anugya Mittal, Marcus L. Elias, Robert A. Schwartz, Rajendra Kapila

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cutaneous involvement can be an important sign of both COVID-19 and rickettsioses. Rickettsial infections may be first evident as an exanthem with eschars as a key finding. In contrast, eschars and necrotic lesions can be seen in critically ill COVID-19 patients. Both illnesses share a similar mechanism of infecting endothelial cells resulting in vasculopathy. Rickettsia parkeri and Rickettsia 364D are both characterized by eschars unlike Rickettsia rickettsii. Other eschar causing rickettsioses such as Rickettsia conorii, Rickettsia africae, and Orientia tsutsugamushi are commonly diagnosed in people from or having traveled through endemic areas. While there is no consensus on treatment for COVID-19, rickettsioses are treatable. Due to possibly serious consequences of delayed treatment, doxycycline should be administered given an eschar-presenting patient's travel history and sufficient suspicion of vector exposure. The proliferation of COVID-19 cases has rendered it critical to differentiate between the two, both of which may have overlapping vasculopathic cutaneous findings. We review these diseases, emphasizing the importance of cutaneous involvement, while also discussing possible therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14984
JournalDermatologic Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


  • insect bite
  • therapy-systemic
  • urticaria
  • vasculitis


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