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Public Health Seminar Series:

Emerging Tick-borne Diseases in California – Good Taxonomy is Good Public Health Practice
by Kerry A. Padgett, PhD

Mon, May 4, 2020 12:00pm-1:00pm OCW Video Archive
Seminar Abstract

With enhanced diagnostic tools, public health and medical researchers are discovering new tick-borne disease agents each year, in some cases, uncovering cryptic species that are later found to be human pathogens. In this talk, I will outline historical and contemporary research conducted collaboratively by the California Department of Public Health, University of California, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to discover and describe bacteria in ticks that were only recently discovered to cause human disease, such as Rickettsia philipii, the agent of Pacific Coast tick fever and Borrelia miyamotoi, the agent of Borrelia miyamotoi disease, also known as hard tick-borne relapsing fever. Implications for disease discovery suggest that looking closely into taxonomy of bacteria within ticks may continue to unveil new diseases with distinct etiologies.

Speaker Biography - Kerry A. Padgett, PhD

Kerry A. Padgett, PhD
Kerry A. Padgett, PhD Supervising Public Health Biologist, California Department of Public Health, Division of Communicable Disease Control Vector-Borne Disease Section
Dr. Kerry Padgett is a Supervising Public Health Biologist and Laboratory Chief of the Vector-Borne Disease Section Laboratory at the California Department of Public Health in Richmond, CA. Her work is an example of One Health in public health practice. She manages a team of field biologists, epidemiologists, and microbiologists with a focus on testing arthropods and wild vertebrates for zoonotic disease agents, including those that cause tick-borne diseases. Dr. Padgett also oversees the California statewide dead bird surveillance and testing program for the detection of West Nile virus, including managing a call center, an online submission platform, and the California West Nile virus website These surveillance efforts translate to better control of vector-borne diseases and targeted public and physician outreach. Dr. Padgett received a BA in English and a BA in Zoology from UC Berkeley and her PhD in Ecology from UC Davis, specializing in Parasitology.

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