Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
What is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. Symptoms of RMSF include fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash that spreads from the wrists and ankles to the trunk. If left untreated, RMSF can cause serious complications, such as damage to the heart, brain, and other organs. Early treatment with antibiotics is crucial for a successful outcome.
What are the causes of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. The bacterium is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks, typically the American dog tick and the Rocky Mountain wood tick. Once a tick attaches to the skin, it can take several hours for it to transmit the bacterium into the bloodstream. People who spend time in wooded or grassy areas where ticks are prevalent are at a higher risk of contracting RMSF. In addition, people who have outdoor occupations, such as farming, hiking, or camping, are also at an increased risk of exposure to infected ticks.
What are the symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?
The symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever typically appear 2-14 days after being bitten by an infected tick, and include:
- Muscle pain
- Abdominal pain
- Rash (usually appears 2-5 days after onset of symptoms and starts on the wrists and ankles before spreading to other parts of the body)
If left untreated, the disease can lead to serious complications, such as damage to the heart, brain, or other organs.
What treatments are available for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is treated with antibiotics. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for a favorable outcome. The most commonly used antibiotics for the treatment of RMSF are doxycycline for individuals of all ages, and chloramphenicol for very young children or pregnant women.
It is important to see a doctor if you suspect you have RMSF and to inform them of any recent tick bites. Treatment should be started as soon as possible to reduce the risk of serious complications.
How to Help Prevent Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?
Here are some ways to help prevent Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever:
- Avoid tick-infested areas: Ticks are commonly found in wooded and grassy areas, so try to avoid these areas, especially during peak tick season (spring to early fall).
- Use insect repellent: When spending time outdoors, use an insect repellent containing DEET or permethrin on exposed skin and clothing.
- Wear protective clothing: When spending time in tick-infested areas, wear long sleeves, pants, and closed-toe shoes. Tuck pants into socks to help prevent ticks from getting to your skin.
- Check for ticks: After spending time outdoors, thoroughly check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks. Ticks can be as small as a pinhead, so be sure to check all areas, including hard-to-see spots like the scalp, under the arms, and in and around the ears.
- Remove ticks promptly: If you find a tick on your skin, remove it as soon as possible. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up with steady pressure.
By following these steps, you can help reduce your risk of getting infected with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
FAQ About Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
How is RMSF transmitted?
RMSF is transmitted by the bite of an infected tick, usually the American dog tick or the Rocky Mountain wood tick.
Where does RMSF occur?
RMSF occurs mainly in the United States, with the majority of cases reported in the southeastern and south-central states.
Who is at risk for RMSF?
Anyone who is bitten by an infected tick can get RMSF, but people who spend time outdoors, such as hikers, campers, and hunters, are at increased risk.
Is RMSF fatal?
RMSF can be fatal if not treated promptly, but with prompt treatment, the majority of patients recover completely.
How long does it take for symptoms to appear after being bitten by an infected tick?
Symptoms of RMSF typically appear 2-14 days after being bitten by an infected tick.
Can RMSF be passed from person to person?
RMSF is not passed from person to person, it can only be transmitted by the bite of an infected tick.
Is there a dermatologist near me in Virginia Beach that offers treatment for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?
Yes. At our Virginia Beach dermatology office we offer treatment for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to patients from Virginia Beach and the surrounding area. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.