Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Definition and Symptoms

An illness resulting from infection with the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. Tick bites spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever, so-named because of the characteristic rash the illness causes. Symptoms generally appear within five days of a tick bite and include:

Treatment Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Symptoms become rapidly more severe as the illness progresses. Diagnosis is primarily clinical, based on the presentation of symptoms in combination with a history of tick bite or exposure to settings where tick bites are possible (such as hiking or camping in wooded areas).

Treatment is prompt administration of doxycycline or tetracycline, antibiotic medications that are especially effective against R. rickettsii. Rapid improvement of symptoms confirms the diagnosis before blood tests are able to do the same.

Most people fully recover with appropriate antibiotic treatment. However, Rocky Mountain spotted fever is life threatening for people who have G6PD deficiency, an inherited condition in which there is a lack of an enzyme important for maintaining red blood cells (erythrocytes).

Age extremes (very young or very old) and chronic alcoholism are other factors that increase the severity of illness

Delayed treatment of Rocky Mountain spotted fever often results in multiple organ failure, requiring intensive medical treatment and a long recovery.


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