What are the Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?

What are the Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?

March 24, 2021

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Treatment, Symptoms and More

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) - sometimes referred to simply as Rocky Mountain fever - is a disease that can be transferred to humans and animals when they are 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 type of tick that carries RMSF 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.

What Are the Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?

Usually, symptoms will appear within the first week after an infected tick bite, but they can take up to 14 days to become apparent. The symptoms are not specific to RMSF and can mimic those of 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 being in a wooded or grassy area where ticks thrive, seek medical attention right away. Even if your symptoms turn out to be from something more benign, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever 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 Rocky Mountain spotted fever rash can be large and splotchy or look like small dots, but it won’t itch. Most of the time, the RMSF rash initially appears on wrists and ankles before spreading from those areas. One of the reasons RMSF can be difficult to diagnose is that some people don’t develop this rash at all.

RMSF can damage your blood vessels, which can lead to long-term health issues for some people. These can include kidney failure, hearing loss and the inflammation of the brain, heart or lungs. Some people may also require amputations due to skin necrosis or gangrene caused by the infection. RMSF can be fatal in both humans and animals if it’s not treated properly.

Who Can Get Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?
Any human bitten by a tick infected with RMSF is susceptible to contracting the disease. The same goes for dogs. It’s possible for other animals, such as cats, to become infected, but that is much less common. If you’re wondering, Can humans get Rocky Mountain spotted fever from dogs?, the answer is no: There is currently no evidence that if, for instance, a dog infected with RMSF bites a person, that person will become infected. However, if the same infected tick bites a dog and a person, they can both contract it. (And even if your cat doesn’t contract it, it can harbor an infected tick and bring it into your home.)

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Treatment

Again, 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 can be prevalent, such as a park, forest or even a yard with tall grass or overgrown vegetation. Be sure to mention the tick bite to your doctor. Similarly, if you notice that your dog is feverish, has an upset stomach, is depressed or isn’t eating, contact a vet immediately, especially if you know they’ve recently been bitten by a tick.

What is the treatment for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and how is it diagnosed? 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 administered early enough. It’s important to administer Rocky Mountain fever treatment quickly because, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out, “RMSF is a rapidly progressive disease and without early administration of doxycycline can be fatal within days.”

Preventing Tick Bites

Like other tick-borne diseases, there is no vaccine for Rocky Mountain fever. The only way to prevent this disease is to prevent tick bites. There are many ways you can go about this. Since ticks live in grassy, wooded areas, take the right precautions if you are planning to spend time in a location like that. Limit the amount of skin exposed and use insect repellent while outdoors. (Not all insect repellent is made to deter ticks, so make sure you’re using one that does.)

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 tweezers. When removing a tick, it’s crucial that you don’t break it and that you remove the entire thing. Apply rubbing alcohol to the bite site.

To help 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 to your home, perform a thorough assessment and design a custom strategy that meets your needs. Get a free quote today and help protect yourself, your family and your pets.

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