July 17, 2020

PetSmart Charities Donates $300,000 Grant to CDC Foundation for Prevention of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever on Tribal Lands

The CDC Foundation this week received a $300,000 grant from PetSmart Charities supporting the Preventing Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever on Tribal Lands project through the next three years. Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a deadly but preventable tick-borne disease heavily affecting some Arizona Tribal communities, with rates in certain areas more than 150 times higher than the national average.

According to the CDC, RMSF cases have recently been identified in areas in Arizona where the disease had not been previously seen―almost 380 cases were reported from 2003 to 2017. The tick responsible for transmission in Arizona is the brown dog tick. Dogs that roam freely bring brown dog ticks into and around homes and are the key driver of RMSF on Tribal Lands.

Animal health and wellness plays a key role in RMSF prevention, ensuring that dogs are healthy and tick free. Funding from PetSmart Charities will also support a program coordinator who will assist CDC and Tribal communities with scaling up proven prevention methods and facilitating training and coordination of integrated partner outreach related to vector-borne disease prevention and animal wellness.

“Although RMSF can rapidly progress to a serious, life-threatening illness, it is preventable with proven interventions,” said Judy Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “PetSmart Charities’ commitment to preventing RMSF on Tribal Lands exemplifies the role of public-private partnerships in engaging communities to improve community health and prevent diseases.”

“Working with Tribal, state, and federal partners, CDC has conducted studies showing that RMSF prevention is possible,” said Gil Kersh, chief of the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch in the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases at CDC. “This partnership with CDC Foundation and PetSmart Charities will engage communities and improve animal wellness, putting proven prevention methods into practice.”

“As an Arizona-based organization, it is important for us to support this initiative that provides resources to the pets and people of Arizona Tribal communities. This collaborative effort will create resources that will not only support preventative measures against contracting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but also strengthen the bond between people and pets in these communities,” said Lindsay Del Chiaro, director of community relations and programs at PetSmart Charities.

The three-year Preventing Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever on Tribal Lands project will support Tribal communities through:

  • creation of integrated support networks for RMSF prevention and animal wellness in impacted Tribal communities;
  • development of resource guides for Tribes to support animal wellness, spay and neuter services, and adoption programs within Tribal communities; and
  • development and dissemination of educational materials on RMSF risk and prevention techniques for Tribal communities.

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