Spotted fever group rickettsiae in multiple hard tick species from Fairfax County, Virginia.

Henning TC, Orr JM, Smith JD, Arias JR, Norris DE.

The W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health , Baltimore, Maryland.


Spotted fever group rickettsiosis (SFGR) is a potentially fatal disease that has displayed increasing incidence in the United States in recent years. The most well-known and severe type of this disease is Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but there are other mild forms that occur.
Recently, human infection with Rickettsia parkeri has been reported and linked with the tick Amblyomma maculatum. In 2010, a population of R. parkeri-infected A. maculatum was discovered in Fairfax County, Virginia, leading to increased surveillance of tick species.
In this study, we report the presence of R. parkeri in Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Haemaphysalis leporispalustris, and Dermacentor variabilis in Fairfax County.
R. parkeri was discovered in two Rh. sanguineus, one H. leporispalustris, and 17 D. variabilis.
These findings suggest that spillover infections of R. parkeri may be occurring in tick species not typically associated with this pathogen; however, vector competence studies need to be conducted to determine if these tick species can serve as potential vectors for human SFGR. 

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