Rocky Mountain Laboratory Historical Marker


Hamilton 59840,Southwest Montana,Ravalli County

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Historical Markers/Interpretive SignHistoric Sites
General info

In earlier days, Rocky Mountain spotted fever was a dreaded malady in the West. The first case of spotted fever was recorded in the Bitterroot Valley in 1873. Neither cause nor cure was known and mortality was high.

Through efforts of the Montana State Board of Health and Entomology, scientists were brought in to solve the mystery. By 1906 they had proved that the bite of a wood tick was the cause of the disease, which was found later to exist throughout the United States. A preventive vaccine was finally developed in this remote laboratory. Yearly vaccination of those who may become exposed to tick bite and effectual treatment methods have solved the problem.

A modern laboratory, now operated by the U.S. Public Health Service, has replaced the tents, log cabins, woodsheds and abandoned schoolhouses that served the first handful of workers. Research has been expanded to include many infectious diseases that are problems in the West.

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