Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Signs and Symptoms

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is considered a bacterial infection that is transmitted from infected ticks to humans. This infection can be serious and must be treated in a timely manner to avoid potentially dangerous complications. Young children and the elderly are at a higher risk to develop serious complications.

The symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever will vary from person to person. The symptoms will also vary depending on how long a person has had the infection. The most common symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever include sore throat, nausea, loss of appetite and headache. These symptoms tend to develop in the first two to fourteen days after becoming infected.

As Rocky Mountain spotted fever develops, those infected may experience symptoms such as insomnia, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, chills, restlessness and sore and tender muscles and bones. Those suffering from this infection may also experience stupor, delirium and lethargy. Once a person begins experiencing these symptoms it is considered very serious.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever will almost always cause a rash. The rash looks like several small, red spots or blotches. This rash can appear anywhere on the body. Depending on the person, this rash may encompass all or most of the body or just one area such as the hands.

Ticks can lodge themselves anywhere on the body, but they prefer lodging themselves in the hair, around the genitals and around the ankles. Once a tick is lodged in the skin, they cause a hard, itchy, small lump. This lump will be surrounded by a red ring that looks like a halo. The longer a tick stays lodged in the skin, the higher the risk of acquiring Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

If Rocky Mountain spotted fever is treated early, it can almost always be treated successfully with prescription medication. If this infection is left untreated it may lead to infections in other areas of the body. Those who are not treated for this infection may experience serious complications affecting the peripheral and central nervous system, the joints, the kidneys, the lungs and the heart. Such complications include kidney, lung or heart failure, shock, meningitis, difficulty clotting blood and brain damage. Death is also a possible complication of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever occurs most often in the eastern United States. In this area, the infection is almost always transmitted by the American dog tick (also known as Dermacentor variabilis). This infection can occur all throughout the United States as well as in South America and Central America. The infection occurs most often in the warm weather when people tend to be outdoors more often.


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