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Rocky mountain spotted fever

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American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis)

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is an acute infectious disease that is passed to a human by a tick bite. The pathogenic agent that is transmitted by the tick is a species of bacteria (Rickettsia rickettsii). This disease is most common in the South-Atlantic region of the United States and is carried by two kinds of ticks (the American Dog tick and the Rocky Mountain Wood tick).

It is both preventable and treatable. People can only get this disease during the late spring to summer months (April to September) and precautions can be taken when going out in long grass to prevent bites. If a doctor is seen within the first week of having symptoms, the patient can receive antibiotics.[1] [2]


Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be confused with other infectious diseases and most people will go to their doctor during the first week they are infected. When people go straight to the doctor the disease can be stopped early without much spread throughout the body. People who delay going to the docotor risk being hospitalized or dying from the disease. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is normally only fatal in older adults. When infected people go to their doctor, the doctor will look for three important signs of the disease: a fever, a rash, and a previous tick bite. The first signs of having the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are a high fever, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, lack of appetite, and a severe headache. After about five to ten days the symptoms normally worsen, causing a rash, abdominal pain, joint pain, and diarrhea.[[3]] Small red bumps or blotches will appear on your wrists, ankles, the palms of your hands, and the soles of your feet. [[4]] There are two ways that the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be diagnosed. The first is by the clinical symptoms. This is diagnosed by someone going to the doctor having all of the right symptoms and the doctor having the knowledge of the disease and diagnoses you with it. The second is through laboratory tests. In the laboratory they will test for three key components: thrombocytopenia, hyponatremia, and high liver enzyme levels. [5]



In the United States there are only two main carriers of the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The two carriers are both ticks, but one is called the American Dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and the other is the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick (Dermacentor andersoni). The ticks will bite people, dig into their skin, and feed off of their blood. Infected ticks will then spread the disease throughout the body via the bloodstream. People can only get this disease during the late spring months into summer, April to September, because this is the only time ticks are active. It recieved its name because the first case was reported in the Rocky Mountains. Now the disease is more commonly found in the south-Atlantic area of the United States. Such as Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virgina, West Virgina, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The two most common states this disease is reported in is Oklahoma and North Carolina. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever has also had reported cases in countries south of the United States. [6]


Rocky Mountain Spotted fever should be treated within the first week of symptoms. If anyone waits longer, then it becomes fatal. This disease is normally treated by antibiotics, which include tetracycline ,chloramphenicol, or doxycycline. For adults these antibiotics are given in 100 mg doses every twelve hours and children, or those under 100 pounds, are given the antibiotic in doses of four mg/kg every twelve hours. The treatment for this disease lasts for about five to ten days, and patients receive basic antibiotics and have to wait it out at home or in the hospital. After getting this disease you can run the risk of getting it again, only because a tick can bite and have the disease again. People should just prevent any ticks from biting them.

This disease can be treated, but it can also be prevented. If anyone is going to a place that this disease is common or that ticks are common, they should take lots of caution and prevention. The best way to prevent getting this disease is by not going into a tick-infested habitat. However most people enjoy activities in those places, so there are other ways you can prevent tick bites. People can prevent tick bites by wearing light colors so ticks are easy to spot, tucking your pants bottoms into your socks, checking your pets and other people for ticks, staying away from long grass and weeds, and using any kind of tick repellent. Also make sure to always remove a tick, whether it is crawling on someone or burrowed into the skin. [7][8]

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External Links

Other Bacterial Diseases