Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Do you know the symptoms?

Hiking in our beautiful state is a staple for the summer but before you go into the Rocky Mountains this month, be sure you are tick safe to prevent Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF).

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is caused by a specific bacteria and is passed onto humans by an infected tick bite.

The first symptoms of RMSF appear 2-14 days after being bitten. Because tick bites are often not felt, the symptoms may seem like another ailment. If you have been hiking and unsure if a bite occurred, it is best to get checked out if you feel these symptoms.

Symptoms include fever, rash, nausea, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, lack of appetite, muscle pain and red eyes. Treatment needs to happen quickly before long-term effects happen.

Rash occurs in majority of the cases with an onset of a fever days after being bitten. The red itchy spots appear on the ankles and wrists and maybe spread to the trunk as well. Children are more likely to develop a rash than adults.

Diagnosis is made by physical examination and patient history as well as blood tests. A complete blood count will show low platelets and a metabolic panel will show elevated liver enzymes and low sodium can help alert your physician to the possible cause.

Once it is determined to be RMSF, antibiotics such as doxycycline are used.

Prevention is simple. When hiking, be sure to use bug repellent with DEET on exposed skin to keep ticks away. Wear light colored clothing to easily see the insects. Tuck pants into your socks to prevent ticks traveling up your legs.

Before venturing out to the Rocky Mountains, take those easy steps and research if the trail you are tackling has had RMSF before. Enjoy the mountains while you still can!

If you suspect you have Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, contact Eagle Ridge to set up an appointment today.