Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a rare disease caused by a bacterium, Rickettsia, and transmitted to humans through the bite of a tick. Ticks that carry the spotted fever organisms can infect humans at any time during the year.

Symptoms: "Flu-like"

Incubation Period - 3 to 14 days
  • Sudden onset of high fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Rash - often appearing a few days later. Rash spreads rapidly over the entire body, may be seen on the palms and soles of the feet.

The illness can be treated with antibiotics, but can be fatal if treatment is delayed.

Prevention: When going into the mountains-

  • Wear light-colored clothing
  • Tuck trousers into the tops of socks and shirttails into trousers
  • Apply a small amount of an insect repellent containing DEET on clothing
  • Frequent "tick checks" should be performed every two to three hours especially in key areas: back, scalp and behind the ears.

Once embedded in the skin, a tick can be removed by using a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick and, gently, but firmly, pull backwards without crushing the tick or leaving the mouthparts in the skin. Avoid crushing tick between fingers as infection can occur if the bacteria enter the skin. Washing hands and applying an antiseptic to the bite after removal is advised. Ticks should always be removed carefully and as soon as possible to prevent disease transmission.

A tick must be attached for several hours for the disease to be spread.

For more information on Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other animal-borne diseases, visit our website at

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