A group of very small microorganisms of the family Rickettsiaceae, order Rickettsiales that occupy a position intermediate between viruses and bacteria. These bacteria-like parasites were earlier considered to be virus, but are now classified as closer to bacteria. They differ from bacteria in that they are retained by Berkefeld filter and are obligate; they require living cells for growths. Like bacteria they reproduce by cell proliferation. Rickettsia contain DNA and RNA and are sensitive to antibiotics. They are the causative agents of many diseases and are usually transmitted by arthropods (lice, fleas, ticks, mites), which serve as vectors. The term Rickettsia is applied to any of the organisms belonging to the genus Rickettsia.
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