Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a disease that can be transferred to humans and animals when bitten by an infected tick. It generally takes the tick feeding on you for six to 10 hours for the disease to be transmitted. The tick that carries this disease is the American dog tick, also known as the wood tick. This disease may be named after the Rocky Mountains, but it is most often found in southeastern states like Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and Virginia.
Signs and Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Usually, symptoms will appear within the first week after an infected tick bite, but it can take up to up to 14 days. The symptoms are not specific to RMSF and can mimic other illnesses. However, if not caught early on, RMSF can quickly turn into a serious and even life-threatening illness. If you experience any symptoms of RMSF after a tick bite or after being in a wooded or grassy area where ticks thrive, you need to seek medical attention right away.
RMSF symptoms include fever, chills, aches, headache, vomiting and confusion. RMSF can also come with a rash. This rash will usually show up two to four days after the fever starts, and it can vary greatly in appearance. The rash can be large and splotchy or look like small dots, but it won’t itch. Most of the time, this rash initially appears on wrists and ankles before spreading from those areas. One of the reasons RMSF can be difficult to diagnose is that not everyone develops this rash.
RMSF damages your blood vessels, which can lead to long-term health issues for some people. This includes amputation, kidney failure, hearing loss and the inflammation of the brain, heart or lungs.
Treatment for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Since RMSF symptoms are similar to other illnesses, you should always go to a doctor if you start to feel ill after a tick bite or if you’ve recently been in an area where ticks are. Be sure to mention the tick bite to your doctor.
In order to diagnose you with RMSF, your doctor can order blood tests. These tests take a while to get back, so it’s likely they will prescribe you an antibiotic while you wait for the results if RMSF is suspected. The antibiotic doxycycline is the recommended treatment for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and it can help prevent death and serious illness when used early on.
Preventing Tick Bites
Like other tick-borne diseases, there is no vaccine for Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The only way to prevent this disease is to prevent tick bites in general. There are many ways you can go about this. Ticks live in grassy, wooded areas, so if you are planning to spend time in a location like that, you need to take the right precautions. Limit the amount of skin exposed and use insect repellent while outdoors.
As soon as you come back indoors, check yourself, your kids and your pets for ticks. If you find a tick attached, carefully remove it with a pair of tweezers. When removing a tick, it’s crucial you don’t break it and you remove the entire thing. Apply rubbing alcohol to the bite site.
To keep ticks out of your yard, consider bringing in a professional. At MosquitoNix®, we offer a pest control service that covers ticks. A licensed and trained technician will come out to your home, perform a thorough assessment and design a custom strategy that meets your exact needs. Protect your family and pets and get a quote today.
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