Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Warwick R. West, Jr.


In the eastern United States, Dermacentor variabilis is the primary vector of Rickettsia rickettsii, the etiological agent for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in eastern United States increased steadily from 1959 to 1979 to a peak of one case per 200,000 people in 1979 (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 1985). In 1976, 98.9% of the reported cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever were east of the 100th meridian with 1.1% occurring west of the 100th meridian (Burgdorfer, 1977). Hanover County, Virginia is an endemic area for this disease (Sonenshine, 1971); the last reported case was in 1984 (Personal communication, Dept. of Epidemiology, Va., 1989). The present study was to determine if rickettsial infection was present in the tick population at three sites in Hanover County, Virginia.

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