December 14, 2023 at 9:14 am

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

General Information

  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is a serious illness caused by the bite of an infected tick carrying the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii.
  • It can be fatal if not treated promptly.
  • Early symptoms of Rickettsia (RMSF) include fever, headache, and upset stomach. Those infected may also have a rash that begins on the wrists and ankles and spreads to the rest of the body.
  • Rickettsia (RMSF) is transmitted to humans and dogs through the bite of an infected tick.
  • Travel to places where stray dogs are common may put individuals at high risk, as stray dogs often carry infected ticks.

How to protect yourself from Rickettsia (RMSF):

  • Use insect repellent containing at least 30% DEET.
  • Wear long pants and sleeves when outdoors. Wearing light-colored clothing allows you to see ticks on your clothing.
  • Check yourself and your pets for ticks after being outdoors. Pay close attention to areas like the armpits, groin, scalp, and behind the ears.
  • Remove ticks promptly: If you find a tick, remove it carefully with tweezers. Grasp the tick close to the skin and pull it straight out with steady pressure. Do not twist or crush the tick. Clean the bite area with soap and water or alcohol.
  • Monitor for symptoms: Be aware of the symptoms of Rickettsia (RMSF), which can include fever, headache, and stomach upset. See a doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms within two weeks of your return to the U.S.
  • Dogs and cats are susceptible to tick bites and tickborne diseases. A variety of products are available such as shampoos and drops that can be applied on your dog or cat’s skin to protect them from tick bites

What to do if you think you have Rickettsia (RMSF):

  • See a doctor immediately.
  • Inform your doctor of any insect bites, recent travel or outdoor activities.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for preventing complications.

Additional resources: