Veterinary Public Health

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Contact Information
Veterinary Public Health Program
313 N Figueroa St. Rm 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel (213) 989-7060
Fax (213) 481-2375
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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Los Angeles County Dogs

Between 2007 and 2008, Veterinary Public Health received reports of four dogs suspected of having Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) based on serological testing. A 2008 California Department of Public Health (CDPH) statewide survey found 10 Southern California veterinarians diagnosed cases of RMSF in the prior year.

RMSF is an acute bacterial disease, caused by Rickettsia rickettsii, which is transmitted by ticks. Dogs are considered sentinels for human cases of RMSF. However, it is not well-established if the canine cases described above represent true RMSF cases as other spotted fever group rickettsiae can induce cross-reactive antibody responses that may be misinterpreted as a positive RMSF titer.

RMSF in Southern California Ticks

The agent is considered to be rare in local ticks. In 2005, it was detected in one brown dog tick in Riverside County and in 2007 is was found in a Pacific Coast tick in Orange County. (See references below)

Local reporting requirement for suspected RMSF cases

Los Angeles County Veterinary Public Health is asking all veterinarians in LA County to report suspected cases of RMSF in dogs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and CDPH are assisting Los Angeles County Veterinary Public Health with this program.

Tick, flea, and blood testing for dogs is being offered by these state and federal agencies to further evaluate the risk of RMSF and other related rickettsial vector-borne diseases. This testing program is anticipated to last approximately 12 months.

  • Please see the separate Canine RMSF Surveillance Program Instruction Sheet for information on how to report cases and submit samples. Free testing might not be available in all cases. Please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions about sample submission or this program. Ask for Dr Emily Beeler or Dr Karen Ehnert (213)-989-7060.

  • Please report your suspected cases of RMSF even if you do not plan to submit samples through our office for testing. Fill out and fax in the Canine Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Reporting Form

Wikswo, M.E., Hu, R., Metzger, M.E., and Eremeeva, M.E. (2007) Detection of Rickettsia rickettsii and Bartonella henselae in Rhipicephalus sanguineus Ticks from California. J Med Entomol. 44(1):158-162.

Orange County Vector Control District Press Release. April 2, 2007. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Confirmed in County Park.

Related Links

RMSF Reporting Veterinarian Instructions

Tick-borne Disease Reporting Form


Last updated June 8, 2017


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