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R. parkeri in Gulf Coast Ticks, Virginia | CDC EID

EID Journal Home > Volume 17, Number 5–May 2011

Volume 17, Number 5–May 2011
Rickettsia parkeri in Gulf Coast Ticks, Southeastern Virginia, USA
Chelsea L. Wright, Robyn M. Nadolny, Ju Jiang, Allen L. Richards, Daniel E. Sonenshine, Holly D. Gaff, and Wayne L. Hynes

Author affiliations: Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA (C.L. Wright, R. Nadolny, D.E. Sonenshine, H.D. Gaff, W.L. Hynes); and Naval Medical Research Center, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA (J. Jiang, A.L. Richards)

Suggested citation for this article

We report evidence that Amblyomma maculatum tick populations are well established in southeastern Virginia. We found that 43.1% of the adult Gulf Coast ticks collected in the summer of 2010 carried Rickettsia parkeri, suggesting that persons living in or visiting southeastern Virginia are at risk for infection with this pathogen.
Rickettsia parkeri is an obligate intracellular bacterium belonging to the spotted fever group of rickettsiae; this organism has recently been found to be pathogenic to humans (1). Infection with R. parkeri can be considered an emerging infectious disease, referred to as R. parkeri rickettsiosis, American Boutonneuse fever, and Tidewater spotted fever. Two confirmed cases of R. parkeri infections, including the index case in 2002, occurred in southeastern Virginia (1–3). Since then, 20 R. parkeri infections have been reported, mainly from the southern United States (2). In the United States, Amblyomma maculatum (family Ixodidae) ticks, commonly referred to as Gulf Coast ticks, are the only known natural vector of R. parkeri. A. maculatum ticks have been reported from 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas (1,4,5), and Virginia (6). Sonenshine et al. reported finding individual A. maculatum ticks in Virginia in 1965 but concluded that populations had not become established (7).

We found large numbers of adult and some nymph A. maculatum ticks in Virginia. This population and the different life stages of the ticks indicate that they are now established in the state. Testing by real-time PCR and sequencing indicated that a high percentage of the ticks contained R. parkeri DNA.

R. parkeri in Gulf Coast Ticks, Virginia | CDC EID

Suggested Citation for this Article
Wright CL, Nadolny RM, Jiang J, Richards AL, Sonenshine DE, Gaff HD, et al. Rickettsia parkeri in Gulf Coast ticks, southeastern Virginia, USA. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2011 May [date cited]

DOI: 10.3201/eid1705.101836

Comments to the Authors
Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Wayne L. Hynes, Department of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA
; email: whynes@odu.edu

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