Pronunciation: (ri-ket'sē-u), [key]
—pl. -si•aePronunciation: (-sē-ē"), [key] -si•asPronunciation: (-sē-uz). [key]
1. any member of the genus Rickettsia, comprising rod-shaped to coccoid microorganisms that resemble bacteria but can be as small as a large virus and reproduce only inside a living cell, parasitic in fleas, ticks, lice, and mites and transmitted by bite to vertebrate hosts, including humans, causing such severe diseases as typhus and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
2. any rickettsia or rickettsialike microorganism of the orders Rickettsiales and Chlamydiales.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.