Colorado Tick Fever

(CTF)

Definition

Colorado tick fever is an infection that is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick.

Causes

Colorado tick fever is caused by the Colorado tick fever virus. Humans can get the virus through the bite of an infected tick. The Rocky Mountain wood tick is the main carrier of the Colorado tick virus in the United States (US). This tick can be found in the western US states (not just in Colorado). It can be found in areas above 5,000 feet in elevation.The virus is also carried by other small mammals, including ground squirrels, porcupines, and chipmunks. There have been reports of rare cases of Colorado tick fever caused by exposure in a laboratory setting and a blood transfusion.
Tick Bite
Bug bites
Colorado tick fever is transmitted through the bite of an infected tick.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chance of Colorado tick fever include:
  • Living or traveling in mountain forest areas at altitudes above 5,000 feet in the western United States (such as Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Oregon)
  • Being in these areas between April and July

Symptoms

Symptoms usually appear 4-5 days after a tick bite occurs and may last for 3 weeks.Colorado tick fever may cause:
  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Severe headache
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Muscle pain
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Rash

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.Tests may include the following:
  • Blood tests to identify the virus
  • Blood tests to identify antibodies for the virus
  • Other blood tests

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