Rocky Mountain spotted fever isn’t unknown, but with relatively few cases in the United States diagnosed each year, it flies under the radar when compared to other tick-borne illness such as Lyme disease. However, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can have far more immediate and deadly consequences, including brain damage and death, and the incidence is on the rise. According to the Patch, the county of Davidson in Tennessee has seen 24 cases so far this year.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever was blamed in taking the life of a 2-year-old girl, Kenley Ratliff of Illinois, just last weekend. The girl began to show signs of a flu-like illness and was diagnosed with strep throat, but the antibiotics didn’t help. She grew sicker, with a fever of 104 degrees, before finally becoming unconscious. Doctors diagnosed Rocky Mountain spotted fever before she died, but it was too late. She had already developed cerebral edema, and her organs were shutting down. Her mother said she was unaware that her daughter had been bitten by a tick and never found a tick on her.
Another woman, 20-years-old, just died in Tennessee after a five-week battle with Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Her organs also began to shut down after being bitten by a tick harboring the deadly bacteria. The antibiotic Doxycycline can combat the illness, but treatment needs to be started early, and that’s why it is important to be vigilant about the possibility of exposure to ticks.
Some people believe they will know if they have been bitten by a tick, but this is not always the case. Even more troubling is the fact that the incubation period varies widely, from two days to two weeks, and generally starts with a feeling of malaise, achiness, headache, and fever. Often, the fever is fairly high — above 103 degrees — and a fine rash will form. This is not always true, though, as some people who have tested positive for Rocky Mountain spotted fever do not develop a rash.
The best course of action is to wear long pants and sleeves when walking through wooded areas, inspecting your body and your animals for ticks daily, and if one is found, pulling it straight out with a pair of tweezers. Get medical help immediately if you experience any flu-like symptoms.
[Featured Image by Getty Images]