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UC Riverside entomologist to study diseases transmitted by ticks
Date:8/4/2011

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Summer for most people means time spent outdoors, which could also mean increased exposure to bugs and, possibly, arthropod-borne diseases, such as "rickettsial diseases" infectious diseases spread by bacteria, which, generally, are transmitted by lice, fleas, ticks and mites.

Now a $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will enable an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside to study how our immune system responds to rickettsial infection.

The immune system is composed of innate and adaptive immunity. The first line of war against infectious agents is innate immunity, while adaptive immunity acts as a second line of defense and protects us against re-exposure to the same pathogen.

"If we understand how our innate immune system works during rickettsial infection, we can use this knowledge to devise novel therapeutics that delay or prevent the onset of rickettsial diseases," said Joao Pedra, the principal investigator of the five-year grant and an assistant professor of entomology.

The main types of rickettsial diseases include devastating typhus, spotted fever, and tsutsugamushi disease. Fever, chills, aches and pain are some common clinical symptoms.

Rickettsial diseases tend to be endemic in areas where public health infra-structure is poor or in tropical regions typically, the developing world. But because of climate change, arthropod vectors that transmit rickettsial agents have re-emerged in developed countries such as the United States.

In the past few decades, research has shown that blood-sucking arthropods such as ticks, mosquitoes, and lice use their saliva during feeding to dampen inflammation and coagulation, and decrease the pain associated with the bite. Consequently, when a person gets bitt
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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