MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER
Ticks carry a lot of diseases. One deadly illness is Rocky Mountain
spotted fever (RMSF). Fever typically begins 2-14 days after the bite of
an infected tick. A tick bite is usually painless and about half of the
people who develop RMSF do not remember being bitten. The disease
frequently begins as a sudden onset of fever and headache and most
people visit a healthcare provider during the first few days of
symptoms. Because early symptoms may be non-specific, several visits may
occur before the diagnosis of RMSF is made and correct treatment begins.
RMSF causes fever, rash (occurs 2-5 days), headache, nausea, vomiting,
and/or abdominal pain. The rash is all over involving even hands, feet,
and face. Not many illnesses cause fever and rash on palms, soles, and
face and patients should begin treatment before any blood work results.
Blood tests may not be positive for a week and that is too late. There
is a high rate of organ damage and death. Death can be in the first
eight days of symptoms if not treated correctly, even in previously
healthy people. It is a bacterial infection from a tick and is treated
with antibiotic Doxycycline. It is rare in Texas and more prevalent in
Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri. Other states can have rare cases
also. This is not to scare or worry you but inform. Just as meningitis
is rare but you know fever and stiff neck is trouble. Fever and rash
all over this time of year is very dangerous and treatable. June to
August is most common time of the year.
Roger Knapp MD