Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

(RMSF)

Definition

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a severe infectious disease that affects your blood vessels. It is potentially fatal. Ticks in North, Central, and South America spread the disease.

Causes

Specific bacteria cause RMSF. The American dog tick and the Rocky Mountain wood tick carry these bacteria. It passes to humans when an infected tick bites the skin. The bacteria can then pass into the bloodstream. The bacteria sit in the lining of small blood vessels and multiply. The growth of the bacteria causes irritation and swelling in the blood vessels. Blood and other fluids can then leak out of the blood vessels into the surrounding tissue.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chance of RMSF include:
  • Being outdoors in areas known to have RMSF especially from April to September
  • Exposure to tick-infested areas such as long grass, weeds, or low brush
  • Exposure to dogs
  • Not using preventative steps (listed below)

Symptoms

The first symptoms of RMSF often occur within 2-14 days after a tick bite and may include:
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Red eyes
  • Light hurting the eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Altered mental status
  • Severe bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing
Most but not all people with RMSF develop a rash. The rash begins as small, flat pink spots but can later progress to red-purple spots. The rash most often starts on the wrists, forearms and ankles.If left untreated, RMSF can cause severe problems to organs or skin near the leaky blood vessels. Symptoms will depend on which organs are involved.
Immune System Including Spleen and Lymph Nodes
Immune system
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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