Rocky Mountain spotted fever is just one of the tick-borne illnesses in the United States. Serious long-lasting complications, such as encephalitis, kidney failure, serious infections and even death, can occur if you do not treat it right away. Fortunately, there are antibiotics that are very effective at stopping these complications, but they are more effective the sooner that they are administered.
Identifying the Type of Tick
If you find a tick on you, it is important to remove it right away. If you are able to identify it, you may be able to determine if you are at greater risk of contracting Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The ticks that spread this are the American dog tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick and the brown dog tick. Once you have the tick, you can put it in a plastic bag or glass jar and use a magnifying class to check the pattern against pictures of different ticks.
Symptoms to Watch
After you have been bitten, it is important to keep an eye out for possible symptoms. These may show up within 5-10 days of being bitten.
The rash will begin as pink spots around the wrists and ankles. They are flat and may move up the forearms. After the first day, the rash will likely spread to the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. This rash is the most distinct sign that you have Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and you should immediately seek medical attention. Your doctor should be able to identify it and give you the correct medication for the disease.
Identifying Your Risk Factors of Contracting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
There are several risk factors that may increase your chances of contracting Rocky Mountain spotted fever. One factor is where you live. Although you may assume that the majority of cases happen in or around the Rocky Mountains, you would be mistaken. According to the article “North Carolina and the Dangers of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever”, the majority of cases occur in the southeastern United States, with a high number each year in North Carolina.
Another risk factor is spending time where you may contract a tick. Ticks like high grasses, leaf litter and the woods or bushy areas. They will crawl up to the top of the grass or bush and wait for an animal to come by that they can attach to.
The time of year you are spending outside can increase your likelihood of contracting a tick. Ticks are active from the spring to the late fall. The nymphs are more likely to bite in the spring. The ticks will hibernate in the winter, and you are less likely to be bitten.
The final risk factor is how long the tick has been attached to you. If it is less than 24 hours, you are less likely to contract the disease. Simply checking for ticks when you come home from a high-risk area can help prevent you contracting it. Showering as soon as you get home can also prevent the tick from attaching.