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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is considered the most serious tick-borne illness and is caused by the bacteria, Rickettsia rickettsii.  It can be deadly if not treated with the proper combination of antibiotics and supplements. It was identified in the Rocky Mountains in the 1800s but is also found in Western Canada and parts of Central and South America.

It is primarily carried by the American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick, and the brown dog ticks. Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever include lacy rash, headaches, high fever, nausea, muscle pain, poor appetite, abdominal pain, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. Typically, the rash starts at the extremities and moves to the trunk as small, flat, pink non-itchy macules.  The rash can involve the palms and soles of the feet.

Complications from the infection can occur, including cognitive deficits, ataxia, hemiparesis, blindness, deafness, or amputation.

Treatment for RMSF can include doxycycline, tetracycline, rifampin, and possibly fluoroquinolones. The treatment may last many months to avoid complications.