veterinary, entomology, ticks, vector-borne, Rickettsia


Rickettsia species are obligate intracellular, arthropod-borne bacteria with a potential to cause multiple diseases including Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). Fleas, mites, and ticks serve as vectors for Rickettsia, but ticks are the primary vector of interest. RMSF and other rickettsial diseases have continued to gain importance in both human and veterinary medicine as RMSF is the most common tick-borne disease within the United States according to the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Research Center. A statewide citizen science project was utilized to determine the prevalence of Spotted Fever Group (SFG) Rickettsia in Arkansas. This project yielded results in 64 of Arkansas’s 75 counties. Results were utilized to determine prevalence in each of the represented counties, and then compiled into a geospatial representation of the data. It was determined that 34.32% of the ticks sampled were carriers of one or more rickettsial species. As the samples were divided by county, multiple counties were shown to have concerningly high exposure risk for SFG Rickettsia. There were six species of ticks represented throughout this study with Amblyomma americanum being the most common. There were also six species of Spotted Fever Group Rickettsia found within the samples. The small portion of ticks that underwent further analysis to determine the specific rickettsial species present, indicated that Rickettsia amblyommatis is likely the most common SFG Rickettsia in Arkansas.