02983: Enhanced Detection and Characterization of Spotted Fever Group Rickettsia Species in Dogs and Ticks with Focus on a Novel Rickettsia Species Infecting Clinically Ill Dogs in the U.S.

Grant Status: Open

Grant Amount: $68,524
Barbara Qurollo, DVM, MS; North Carolina State University
January 1, 2022 - December 31, 2023

Sponsor(s): American Black & Tan Coonhound Club

Breed(s): -All Dogs
Research Program Area: Tick-Borne Disease Initiative , Immunology and Infectious Disease
Donate to Support this Research Program Area

One Health: Yes

Abstract

Dogs carry the burden of high exposure to tick-borne diseases, often alerting us to new and emerging pathogens before people are infected. Recently, investigators identified a new tick-borne spotted fever group Rickettsia (SFGR) species infecting seven clinically ill dogs in the U.S. All infected dogs had clinical signs like Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Genetic analysis of the novel Rickettsia sp., designated Rickettsia st. 2019-CO-FNY, showed this to be a distinct and new Rickettsia sp. These findings shed light on how little is known about SFGR in dogs and people, due in part to diagnostic limitations and the need for modalities that can more rapidly identify and speciate active SFGR infections. The focus of this study is to investigate the genetic, epidemiologic, and ecological features of emerging SFGR in dogs. Researchers will develop an advanced molecular diagnostic test, attempt to isolate Rickettsia st. 2019-CO-FNY from naturally infected dogs for whole genome sequencing, and characterize tick species harboring SFGR species. If successful, investigators will be able to 1) benefit canine health by providing an improved SFGR diagnostic test to better detect the most prevalent group of tick-transmitted pathogens in the US, and 2) share new information on a medically relevant, potentially zoonotic novel SFGR, including its genomic sequence and how it is transmitted. This information will ultimately shed light on how SFGR infections impact canine health and how different Rickettsia spp. are maintained in the environment, better preparing us for detection and prevention of disease in dogs and people.

Publication(s)

None at this time.

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