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N Engl J Med. 1988 May 26;318(21):1345-8.

A focus of Rocky Mountain spotted fever within New York City.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Montefiore Medical Center, North Central Bronx Hospital.


In the spring and summer of 1987, four persons acquired Rocky Mountain spotted fever within New York City, an area in which the disease had not previously been known to be endemic. Three of the four patients were residents of the Soundview area of the Bronx. All diagnoses were confirmed by indirect fluorescent-antibody tests. Environmental investigation revealed that the tick vector for Rickettsia rickettsii, Dermacentor variabilis, was present in a local park. Of the 66 specimens of D. variabilis collected, 5 (8 percent) were positive for rickettsiae from the spotted fever group. Of an additional 96 specimens of D. variabilis, 5 (5 percent) were found positive for rickettsiae by a more specific monoclonal antibody assay. Eight additional New York City parks in all five boroughs were searched for ticks. D. variabilis was found in only one other park; of the 147 ticks collected there, none were positive for rickettsiae. These findings emphasize the focal nature of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and the need to consider that disease in the differential diagnosis of any obscure acute febrile illness, even in the absence of a history of travel to known endemic areas.

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