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Atlanta, Ga. — Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) makes you think twice when you pull off a tick. Makes you reach for the triple antibiotic gel or any other remedy your family has used hoping to ward off the deadly disease.
If you live where there are ticks, chances are you have already yanked one or more of the little suckers off you this summer.
The Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks have their share of ticks, but since 2002 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Indian Health Service (IHS) have been following an outbreak of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in two American Indian Tribe communities in Arizona that has reached epidemic proportions.
According to the CDC study 300 cases and 20 deaths have occurred there between ’02 and 2014.
RMSF is carried by the brown dog tick, and more than 20 per cent of untreated cases are fatal, according to the CDC. From the start of symptoms the disease without treatment can be fatal within eight days. The disease should be treated with doxycycline as soon as infection is suspected; waiting can affect a successful outcome, according to the CDC.
Symptoms of RMSF include a fever and a headache, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes a rash. According to the CDC, severely ill patients might require amputation of fingers, toes or limbs due to blood loss. Heart and lungs in a RMSF patient can be affected and require ICU treatment.
RMSF is completely preventable, according to CDC epidemiologist Naomi Drexler, who said they are working with federal, state and tribal authorities to build an “effective community based tick control program.” This includes putting tick collars on dogs and treating homes and lawns.
For more information of RMSF and other rickettsia bacterial infections you can visit www.cdc.gov/rmsf.
To read the 6-page study of RMSF in Arizona, published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, click HERE.