Term of Award

Summer 2004

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)


Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Quentin Q. Fang

Committee Member 1

William S. Irby

Committee Member 2

Lance A. Durden


Author's abstract: Q-fever is a zoonosis caused by a worldwide-distributed bacterium Coxiella burnetii. Ticks are vectors of the Q-fever agent but play a secondary role in transmission because the agent is also transmitted via aerosols. Most Q-fever studies have focused on farm animals but not ticks collected from dogs in animal shelters. In order to detect the Q-fever agent in these ticks, a nested PCR technique targeting the 16S rDNA of Coxiella burnetii was used. A collection of 450 ticks from the animal shelter were screened via nested PCR and 144 (32%) were positives. The positive PCR products were also confirmed by DNA sequencing. This is the first report of the prevalence of the Q-fever agent in ticks from an animal shelter. The results are significant to public health. Highly infected ticks in animal shelters may transmit the Q-fever agent to humans via its feces, excretion, or by biting.