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September 10, 1973

Surveillance of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Author Affiliations

From the Epidemiology Program, Center for Disease Control, Public Health Service, Atlanta. Dr. Peters is now with the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Bellflower, Calif.

JAMA. 1973;225(11):1338-1343. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220390036008

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) accounts for more than 90% of the reported cases of rickettsial disease in the United States and is the only rickettsial disease still having serious mortality.1-3 A dramatic decrease in reported cases of RMSF following introduction of specific chemotherapy in the mid 1940s prompted hope that this disease would cease to be a major public health problem; however, since 1960, the reported morbidity and mortality of RMSF has been increasing,1,2 particularly in the southeastern United States. In 1970, the Center for Disease Control initiated a surveillance program to define the epidemiologic and clinical features of this resurgence of RMSF. An analysis of the data obtained for 1970 and 1971 is presented here.

Materials and Methods  Annual reporting of the number of cases of RMSF by state health departments has existed since 1920. These data are summarized annually by the Center for Disease Control and