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ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER

Ticks carry a lot of diseases.  One deadly illness is Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). Fever typically begins 2-14 days after the bite of an infected tick. A tick bite is usually painless and about half of the people who develop RMSF do not remember being bitten. The disease frequently begins as a sudden onset of fever and headache and most people visit a healthcare provider during the first few days of symptoms. Because early symptoms may be non-specific, several visits may occur before the diagnosis of RMSF is made and correct treatment begins. RMSF causes fever, rash (occurs 2-5 days), headache, nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal pain. The rash is all over involving even hands, feet, and face.  Not many illnesses cause fever and rash on palms, soles, and face and patients should begin treatment before any blood work results.  Blood tests may not be positive for a week and that is too late.  There is a high rate of organ damage and death.  Death can be in the first eight days of symptoms if not treated correctly, even in previously healthy people. It is a bacterial infection from a tick and is treated with antibiotic Doxycycline.  It is rare in Texas and more prevalent in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri.  Other states can have rare cases also.  This is not to scare or worry you but inform.  Just as meningitis is rare but you know fever and stiff neck is trouble.  Fever and rash all over this time of year is very dangerous and treatable.  June to August is most common time of the year.

 

 

Roger Knapp MD