The Texas State Department of Health has issued a warning about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a deadly disease caused by Rickettsia Rickettsii bacteria. Without medical treatment, the fatality rate can be as high as 30%.
Health authorities from multiple states (including Texas) want to inform residents about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). After all, many people don't know about its symptoms or that the disease even exists.
RMSF is a tick-borne disease caused by Rickettsia Rickettsii bacteria, and has a fatality rate up to 30% in patients who do not receive treatment. But even with prompt medical attention, hospitalization rates of 72% and mortality rates of 4% have been reported, per the CDC. Quoting an article published by the Texas State Department of Health:
"Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a serious disease transmitted most commonly by the bite of an infected tick. The initial symptoms, which follow an incubation period of 3 to 14 days, include sudden onset of high fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches. A rash often appears a few days later. This rash generally begins on the extremities, especially the soles of the feet and palms of the hand, and spreads rapidly over the entire body. The classic three concurrent findings for this disease include fever, rash, and history of tick exposure. Prompt medical attention is extremely important because RMSF can be fatal without timely treatment with antibiotics."
According to the CDC, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is sometimes grouped with similar diseases and referred to as Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis (SFR). This is because it's difficult to "differentiate between spotted fever group Rickettsia species using commonly available serologic tests." Also, the number of cases has been increasing in recent years.
American Dog Ticks and the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick are the most common species which spread the disease around the United States. They are commonly found in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and most places along the eastern seaboard. However, they have also been found in California, Idaho, Washington, and several other states.
A lot of people in Texas take preventative steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitos in the summer. However, ticks are actually a much bigger threat to human health. Because according to The Washington Post, "Ticks, which are not insects but parasitic arthropods, actually cause more disease in the United States than mosquitoes do, accounting for 76.51 percent of total U.S. vector-borne disease cases. These include Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever and newer diseases as well."
To identify the ticks in your home (or anywhere else), here are several examples of different species:
It's important to remember that Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever cannot be passed from one person to another. However, if your dog has ticks infected with RMSF, they could migrate to you while in close contact with your pet.
Are you concerned about emerging diseases in Texas? Leave a comment with your thoughts.
This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered health advice. Therefore, please consult a doctor before making any significant medical decisions.
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