What is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)

A news article published on CNN website this year reported a two-year old in Indianapolis dying of a little known disease that doctors suspect was Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). The girl had developed strep throat and was given antibiotics. Later she reported of a high fever and pink rashes started popping on her body a few days later she died of the disease.

Not many people are aware of RMSF and how it spreads. In this article, we will shed light on the disease and what you can do to protect yourself and your kids from this illness.

What is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)?

RMSF is a disease that is caused by the bacterium rickettsia. The bacterium enters the human body through the bite of an affected tick, which are are tiny, bloodsucking parasitical insects. Some of the diseases you can get from a tick bite are Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. While both adults and children can get the disease, children are particularly susceptible to RMSF.

Animals can also get bitten. There was one case where a small female malaise had a black bump next to her eye. As the days passed, its owner noticed the bump was growing. Upon close examination, it was found to be a tick that was attached to her. Fortunately, the parasite was successfully removed without any further complications; however, this might not always be the case. The dog picked up the tick in the back yard of their Long Island home, so ticks can be anywhere. Be careful!

Individuals who suffer from the disease develop a fever and rashes across their body. If not treated through the right antibiotics, the disease can prove fatal, like in the case of the little girl. It’s important to take protective measures against ticks, particularly during the warmer months when these predators are usually the most active.

How to Avoid Contact with Ticks?

Ticks are usually found in brushy and wooded areas, having leaf litter and high grass and many times, found in the center of camping trails. In order to avoid contact with ticks, it’s important to use a repellent that consists of 20+ percent of picaridin, DEET or IR3535. The repellent must be applied on the exposed skin. It should not be applied on the eyes, hands or mouth. The action of the relent lasts for several hours. You can find the best repellent on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.

Furthermore, it’s important to treat clothing such as pants, socks and boots with a product containing 0.5 percent permethrin before going camping. The effect of the product may last through several washings.

After coming indoors, you should also tumble dry your clothes in a dryer with high heat setting. Drying the cloth for 10 minutes will kill the ticks. Additional time will be required for treating damp clothes. If washing is required, you should wash the cloth in hot water.

Lastly, you should find and remove ticks from the body. It’s important to shower as soon as possible when you come indoors. Consider doing a full body check to find ticks. You can use a full-length mirror to find ticks on the body. Places to look include under the arms, inside the belly button, in and around the ear, between the legs, behind the knees, in your hair and around the waist.

These simple measures listed above can help you and your family in avoiding the threat of being infected by the deadly Rocky Mountain spotted fever.