, a new species of spotted fever group rickettsiae, was identified from Rocky Mountain wood ticks () collected in the Sapphire Mountain Range on the eastern side of Bitterroot Valley, Montana. DNA from Skalkaho (T = type strain) in naturally infected tick tissue was amplified by a PCR assay with primer sets derived from eubacterial 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA), rickettsial citrate synthase, and 190-kDa surface antigen (rOmpA) genes. Partial 16S rDNA and rOmpA gene sequences exhibited levels of similarity of 99.7 and 93.2%, respectively, with the sequences of the spotted fever agent R. By using Giménez staining, fluorescent antibody tests, a PCR assay, and a restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis, 76 of 115 female ticks (minimal field infection rate, 66.1%) collected between 1992 and 1995 were found to be infected. The organism is passed transstadially and transovarially (minimal vertical transmission rate, 73.3%), and infections are localized in ovarial tissues. Attempts to cultivate were unsuccessful.


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