S: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
FC: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
1: The Causes The cause of Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the organism Rickettsia rickettsii. This bacterium most often is spread to humans by tick bites. Ticks can attach themselves to your skin and feed on your blood. They can lodge anywhere on your body, but often are found in your hair, around your ankles and in your genital area. Once embedded in your skin, ticks can cause a small, hard, itchy lump surrounded by a red ring or halo. The longer an infected tick stays attached to your skin, the greater your chance of acquiring infection. Rocky Mountain spotted fever also can be transmitted through broken skin, such as a cut or scrape on your hands or fingers. Bacteria that cause this disease circulate in the fluids of a tick's body. If you squeeze or crush a tick as you remove it from yourself, another person or a pet, an infection can occur if the fluid comes in contact with an area of broken skin. It's also possible to develop an infection if you touch your eye after coming into contact with an infected tick.
2: Rocky Mountain spotted fever symptoms include: High fever — body temperature reaching 102 F (38.9 C) or greater Chills Severe headache Widespread aches and pains Restlessness Nausea and vomiting Loss of appetite Fatigue A rash of red spots or blotches
3: Risk factors Your risk of contracting Rocky Mountain spotted fever depends on what part of the United States you're in, how much time you spend in grassy or wooded areas, and how well you protect yourself. It's important to take precautions against exposure to ticks and to be sure to check yourself and your dog for ticks after being outside.
4: When to seek medical advice See your doctor if you develop a rash or become sick after a tick bite. Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other infectious diseases carried by ticks can progress rapidly and may be life-threatening. If possible, take the tick along with you to your doctor's office for laboratory testing.
5: Tests and diagnosis Your doctor will likely be able to diagnose Rocky Mountain spotted fever by evaluating your signs and symptoms and by conducting a physical examination. In addition, he or she may order a blood test or examine a specimen of the rash or the tick itself to search for the presence of the organism that causes this infection
6: Treatments and drugs Treatment for Rocky Mountain spotted fever involves careful removal of the tick from your skin and antibiotic medication, such as doxycycline or tetracycline, to eliminate the infection. Prompt treatment is important because the disease can progress rapidly and may cause serious illness. People who develop Rocky Mountain spotted fever are much more likely to survive if treated within five days of developing symptoms. How to safely remove a tick If you find a tick crawling on your skin, carefully remove it. Don't crush it between your fingers. Instead, burn it, bury it or flush it. Be sure to wash your hands afterward. If a tick has already bitten you and is holding on to your skin, follow these steps: Remove the tick by gently grasping it near its head or mouth, preferably with a tweezers. Don't squeeze or crush the tick, but pull carefully and steadily. Save the tick by sealing it in a plastic bag and storing it in the freezer. This allows the tick to be tested for specific bacteria by your doctor if you become sick from the bite. If no signs or symptoms of infection occur within two weeks after the bite, dispose of the tick by burning it, burying it or flushing it. Disinfect the tweezers with alcohol or antibacterial soap and water. Wash that area of your skin thoroughly and apply antiseptic to the bite area after the tick has been removed. Wash your hands thoroughly.
7: Prevention You can decrease your chances of contracting Rocky Mountain spotted fever by taking some simple precautions: Wear long pants and sleeves. When walking in wooded or grassy areas, wear shoes, long pants tucked into socks and long-sleeved shirts. Try to stick to trails and avoid walking through low bushes and long grass. Use insect repellents. Products containing DEET (Off! Deep Woods, Repel) or permethrin (Repel Permanone) often repel ticks. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label. Clothing that has permethrin impregnated into the fabric also may be helpful in decreasing tick contact when outdoors. Do your best to tick-proof your yard. Clear brush and leaves where ticks live. Keep woodpiles in sunny areas. Check yourself and your pets for ticks. Do this after being in wooded or grassy areas. Some ticks are no bigger than the head of a pin, so you may not discover them unless you are very careful. Don't assume you're immune. Even if you've had Rocky Mountain spotted fever before, it can occur in the same person more than once. Follow precautions and check yourself for ticks. Remove a tick with tweezers. Gently grasp the tick near its head or mouth. Don't squeeze or crush the tick, but pull carefully and steadily. Once you have the entire tick removed, apply antiseptic to the bite area.