Thursday, August 11, 2005

ENV: New source for RMS Fever

Dog tick found to spread spotted fever

(AP) -- Scientists have discovered that a very common type of dog tick can spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a serious and often fatal illness that reached historic highs in the United States last year.

Two types of ticks already were known to transmit the disease, but they're not as common and are carried mostly by rodents and dogs that live near wild or rural areas.

This is the first time that a tick that routinely plagues house pets has been implicated.

The discovery was made through an investigation of Arizona's first outbreak, involving 16 cases and two deaths in the last few years.

Health officials don't want people to panic or think this will become a nationwide epidemic, because they've found these infected ticks only in Arizona.

But the newly implicated tick lives everywhere in the world, and experts have been stumped by many unexplained cases of the disease around the United States.

"We may have been missing this in the past," said Linda Demma, who led the study for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It's almost certainly occurring in other places and not diagnosed," agreed Dr. J. Stephen Dumler, an expert on the disease at Johns Hopkins University.


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