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Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the name given to a disease caused by the bacteria, Rickettsia rickettsii, that can infect both animals and people. Named because it was first recognized as occurring in the Rocky Mountain states, however, most cases occur in the East especially the Southeast. Cases occur each summer in Indiana
RMSF is spread in Indiana by the bite of the dog tick, Demacentor variablis. Ticks acquire their infection from small wild living rodents. The tick injects the bacteria into either the animal or human host as it is engorging on blood. Pictures of the dog tick can be viewed at: www.ent.iastate.edu/imagegal/tick/dvar/
Patients with RMSF first show symptoms 5-10 days after a tick bite. Early symptoms are not specific for RMSF but may include:
You cannot tell without seeing your doctor. Your physician will complete a thorough history, review of your signs and symptoms, physical examination, and laboratory testing to confirm whether or not you have RMSF.
RMSF can be treated with appropriate antibiotics, usually a tetracycline or doxycycline, but others may be used depending on the patient’s age or other health status.
Preventing tick bites is the only way to prevent this disease. Preventing tick bites can be accomplished by:
After leaving a tick infested area do a full body tick check and remove any ticks found with either tweezers, paper tissue, or while wearing gloves. Ticks should be removed by grasping them close to the skin and pulling upward with a steady, even pressure. For additional instructions on tick removals go to: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rmsf/Prevention.htm.