Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Rodeo Project
Tackling Ticks! Curbing the Risk of Exposure to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in the Southwest
In 2012, CDC began working with American Indian communities in Arizona to control Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) after an outbreak of the vectorborne disease. CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) led the overall agency response. EHS helped develop and implement a reservation-wide dog collaring program, the RMSF Rodeo, to halt disease spread by dogs, the main source of exposure to disease-transmitting ticks.
During the rodeo, teams met with approximately 600 homeowners and talked to them about the tick control process. While at the homes, the teams offered free leashes and explained why dogs should be prevented from roaming free (to keep them from picking up ticks from other areas). The group tackled the tick control effort by applying a pesticide spray around yards in four applications during tick season (spring through fall). Additionally, the group placed a long-acting tick collar that remained effective for up to 8 months on every dog in the study area. More than 2,000 collars, donated by Bayer, were fitted to dogs. In addition, students and faculty from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine offered free spay and neuter services to curb the dog population.
At the end of the first year of the project, 4 months later, only 1% of dogs in the study area had ticks, while 63% of dogs outside the study area had ticks. During year 2 of the RMSF Rodeo effort, tick levels were sustained below 3%, with the continued use of the long-acting tick collar alone. Even more exciting, the tribe expanded key ideas from the RMSF Rodeo reservation-wide, tackling the issue of ticks at every house. The multiagency task force efforts resulted in significant success in terms of tick control. With an emphasis on long-term health improvements, talks are under way to determine how this initiative could become locally funded and sustained.
The Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Rodeo project featured strong collaboration from a number of organizations. Group members included tribal and local health departments, Indian Health Service Office of Environmental Health and Engineering, Arizona Department of Health Services, U.S, Department of Agriculture, CDC Foundation, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, North Dakota State University, Bayer Animal Health Division, PetSmart Charities, and community volunteers.
For more information, visit the RMSF Rodeo page.