Howard Ricketts, US pathologist

Howard Ricketts, US pathologist

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Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institutes of Health/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Howard Taylor Ricketts (1871-1910), US pathologist. Ricketts was one of the pioneering researchers who studied the causes and spread of diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever. This disease and similar ones were found to be caused by bacteria spread by ticks. Ricketts discovered that ticks were vectors for the disease. When the pathogen causing the disease was eventually identified (Rickettsia rickettsii), it and related bacteria were named for Ricketts. His work led to the formation of the Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Hamilton, Montana, USA. Ricketts would sometimes inject himself with, or expose himself to, the pathogens he was studying, in order to observe their effects. In 1910, he was studying a form of typhus. He succeeded in isolating the cause, but soon after died of the disease.

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