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Rolling Up Our Sleeves to Fight Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Categories: Zoonotic Disease

CDC scientist Linda Cheng, collaring dogs in Arizona.

CDC scientist Linda Cheng, collaring dogs in Arizona.

I am a pediatrician by training, and people are often amused by that fact when I tell them what my job responsibilities sometimes include. Going door-to-door putting tick collars on dogs and treating yards with pesticide are not activities people typically associate with their children’s doctor. However, this is exactly what my team and I were doing last summer.

I am a medical officer at the CDC in the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, and my team consisted of public health specialists, including veterinarians and scientists. We traveled to eastern Arizona last summer to join with a group of concerned community members to tackle Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), a serious public health threat in this region.

In the Trenches

EIS Officer Barbara Knust, DVM, MPH, documenting treated areas.

EIS Officer Barbara Knust, DVM, MPH, documenting treated areas.

RMSF has not historically been a problem in Arizona, but unfortunately this situation has changed dramatically in the last decade. In this community, and others, the common brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) has become a vector for this deadly disease and has begun infecting people in and around their homes at an alarming rate. Our mission was to go door-to-door warning people about this risk, put a tick collar on every dog in the area, including strays, and treat every house with pesticide. As this work placed us at some risk for contact with ticks, we took the same precautions we recommended to community members, like treating our clothes with permethrin and applying DEET as a repellent. After a week of intense manual labor in the Arizona sun, it was time to return to the CDC.

It is personally satisfying to roll up my sleeves and work side by side with a community to tackle a dangerous problem like RMSF, but doing so also has great scientific value. By working to control a problem such as this one at the ground level, we develop a better understanding of the difficulties and challenges a community is facing.

Controlling the Pests

EIS Officer Kristina McElroy, DVM, MPH, DACVPM is treating houses and dogs for ticks

EIS Officer Kristina McElroy, DVM, MPH, DACVPM is treating houses and dogs for ticks

Although we know that the brown dog tick bites people, its primary food source consists of blood meals from dogs. This tick could not continue to infest this area without untreated dogs on which to feed. Thus, it seems logical that treating every dog in the community effectively for ticks would eliminate the problem. However, the reality is far more complex. Once these ticks have infested an area, they can persist in the environment without feeding for long periods of time, so houses and yards also need to be treated. Furthermore, the pesticide doesn’t kill tick eggs, so all environmental treatment needs to be repeated monthly, and tick collars need to be replaced every 3 months to continue to kill the newly hatching ticks. If everyone in the community is not completely compliant with this treatment regimen, the problem persists.

The overwhelming majority of community members with whom we talked had heard about RMSF and were familiar with the ongoing control efforts. Many people expressed to us, and we experienced firsthand, the difficulties that were arising while trying to achieve complete compliance with this regimen.

During our work, we occasionally came across vicious dogs. In these situations, we were unable to collar the dogs or treat the houses of the owners, so these yards remained safe havens for ticks. Stray dogs that were able to elude our team did not receive collars. These untreated dogs can also serve as safe harbors for ticks, moving freely between homes and re-infesting treated areas. Effective animal control programs serve a vital public health role in protecting people from these problems in many areas of the country, but are still underfunded or absent in some rural communities, such as this one.

Working with the Communities

Understanding the challenges this community is facing not only helps us better serve them, but also allows us to identify other communities at risk. It is clear from this experience that once this problem has emerged, it takes an enormous investment in time, resources, and community participation to control. We hope that through continued cooperation, we can help this community control, and one day, eradicate RMSF.

It is also clear from our field work that prevention of this problem is easier to achieve than control. You can help prevent this problem from developing in your community by supporting effective animal control programs and treating your pets appropriately for ticks before they begin bringing Rocky Mountain spotted fever home.

Tips for Health Care Providers

  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is transmitted by ticks. The first symptoms of the disease are often fever and headache, followed in several days by a skin rash. Patients may also have signs of pneumonia or abdominal pain. If not treated properly, this disease can become severe, or even fatal, in the first week or two of symptoms, even in previously healthy people.
  • The first-line treatment for adults and children of any age is doxycycline. Most other antibiotics, including broad-spectrum antibiotics, do not work for treating this disease. It is very important to begin treatment with doxycycline as soon as the disease is suspected, because treatment started after the fifth day of symptoms is less likely to be helpful. For more information about treatment, visit http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/treatment.html
  • Eastern Arizona has an unusually high rate of RMSF. Since 2003, Arizona has reported over 80 cases, and 10% of the people diagnosed with the disease in this state have died. The vector for RMSF in Arizona is the brown dog tick, which lives on dogs and around people’s homes. Cases have occurred in this state year-round, including the colder months. For more information on cases in Arizona, visit http://www.azdhs.gov/phs/oids/vector/rmsf/rocky_mountain.htm
  • In Arizona and other areas, clusters of RMSF among family members and close contacts have been reported. Family members and other people who may have been exposed to the same environment should be informed of this higher risk when a new RMSF case is suspected.
  • Some people who have the disease do not remember being bitten by a tick, while others may not develop a rash. The wide variety of symptoms seen with this disease can make it difficult to diagnose. For information about symptoms, visit http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/symptoms.html
  • There is no way for doctors to be sure if a patient has the disease in the first 5 days of symptoms, because lab tests to confirm the disease take time to perform. Therefore, patients should always be started on doxycycline on the basis of clinical suspicion, and doctors should never wait for lab results to return before beginning treatment.
  • The gold standard test for confirming a diagnosis of RMSF is the IgG indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) performed on two serum samples taken 3 weeks apart. The first sample should be taken as early in the disease as possible, preferably in the first week of symptoms. In true cases of RMSF, the first IgG IFA titer is typically low, or “negative,” and the second shows a significant (fourfold) increase in IgG antibody levels. IgM antibodies usually rise at the same time as IgG but are less specific and more likely to represent a false positive. For a more in-depth explanation of testing, visit http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diagnosis.html
  • RMSF is a nationally reportable disease. Proper laboratory testing and reporting can help us target aid to high-risk communities and limit the spread of RMSF. For information about how to report cases, contact your local health department. Physicians in Arizona may visit http://www.azdhs.gov/phs/oids/hcp_rpt.htm

Public Comments

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

  1. March 24, 2010 at 12:35 pm ET  -   wolfgang Povolny MS, REHS/RS

    I found the article very interesting. I had previous experience working for a veterinary supply distributor detailing products, a nationally recognized exterminator company, and many years in environmental and public health. I have not until now been able to connect the dots on this particular problem, with that experience. If a pet dog were given a pesticide such as heartworm medicine, on a regular basis, such as the former monthly oral dose, would the pesticide/medicine also potentially kill not only heart worms, but also other pests that would feed on a blood meal, off of the host animal, ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, black flies, etc., therefore, reducing the wild breeding population in a given area and assisting in thier control, at least around a community or yard and reducing the necessity of broad application of chemicals around children or peoples yards. If not a pesticide , possibly a growth inhibitor as a form of birth control for the insect pests. This might be a research idea for somebody.

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  2. January 25, 2011 at 11:29 pm ET  -   Grace Harrison

    This is really a serious diseases specially the community located in that area, people should be informed of what cause and symptoms of this so it will be prevented.

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  3. January 31, 2011 at 8:59 pm ET  -   Donna

    My husband was diagnosed with a sever case and few years ago and was in an induced comma for 24 days. I would like to find out if anyone who has contracted this disease experience any long term affects with their central nervous system, memory, mood swings, etc. I would deeply appreciate it if you would please share your experiences.

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  4. February 1, 2011 at 10:42 am ET  -   Blog Administrator

    Donna, for more information about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever you can visit CDC’s website http://www.cdc.gov/rmsf/.

    Thank you for reading!

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  5. February 10, 2011 at 10:49 am ET  -   FeedeWetDejes

    Your site is great, thank you, I have learned a lot of knowledge.

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  6. February 15, 2011 at 4:00 pm ET  -   WillSmith

    Hi! I’m just wondering if i can get in touch with you, since you have amazing content, and i’m thinking of running a couple co- projects! email me pls

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  7. May 4, 2011 at 4:06 am ET  -   Lance Smith

    Hello, I am an EMT now living in Pennsylvania. When I was younger I had RMSF, which I contracted from a tick while on a family vacation to South Eastern Ohio. I was wondering if there is a way to make an antidote from the antigens that a Pt would build up? If so could I help save a life by donating my blood?

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  8. June 25, 2011 at 9:31 am ET  -   cyndy

    My husband and twin boys were diagnosed with rocky mountain spotted fever. My husband and one of the twins are taking treatment for it, the other feels that he does not need to be treated. How can I convense him to take the treatment. His wife and him are expecting their first child in August. I want him to get treatment before it is to late. If anyone has any ideal how I can convence him to get help before it to late let me know. I would appreate the help in this matter.

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  9. July 1, 2011 at 9:50 am ET  -   Sherry

    I’m on my second day at Childrens Hospital with my 12 year old son that was diagnosed RMSF. We were lucky that it was caught and treated early. We live in a state that only 2 cases in the last 10 years (MN) have been reported. His started with sore neck and not feeling so well. This bloomed into loss of appetite, throwing up and a fever of 104 and the rash followed. The rash started on his wrists and ankles and kept spreading to his trunk. At fist it was diagnosed as strep throat with a rash. But lucky for us, our doctor thought it could have been a tick related disease and started him on Doxycycline right away, before it was confirmed by the blood work. I love my doctor.
    Take this seriously!

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  10. July 1, 2011 at 10:34 am ET  -   Sherry

    I also forgot to mention that we never found a tick on his body. We were sent to Childrens hospital to see the specialist after 2 more days of not getting better. He kept throwing up and I think he was not getting enough doxycyline in his system to cure him. The specialist sent us home claiming it was just strep throat with a rash. Thank God that my ped doctor thought it might be a tick related disease and sent his blood in to be tested and started him on his meds right away.

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  11. July 14, 2011 at 1:43 pm ET  -   top news today

    Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group? There’s a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Thanks

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  12. July 17, 2011 at 11:17 am ET  -   Laura

    I have been diagnosed with RMSF after symptoms of extreme joint and muscle pain, fatigue, cloudy vision, tick bites etc. they blood tested me to confirm.I didn’t run a fever or get a rash. I’m on doxicyclene, 4 days now, but continue to ache and be exhausted. I don’t fit the normal profiles for treatment and don’t know what to expect.They also think I may have had it two months ago too. Does any one have a similar experience to help me know when I might feel better?

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  13. July 18, 2011 at 10:18 pm ET  -   barbara goodman

    My husband just came home from the hospital after having RMSF, he was treated for a kidney infection at first. He presented at the hospital with a fever, back ache, weak legs, headache, his legs had pinpoints of blood just under the skin, then it went onto his chest and back. He also had tremors, and jerked like he was having a seizure,the doctor said if his kidny level got to a 4, he would have to have dyalisis,he got to 3.7 then a doctor of hemotology ask if he had had a tic bite, and we said yes, and they pulled blood for the test, and started him on doxycycline and he started getting better, then it went to his brain, and he wasn’t with us for 3 days, then he started getting better again, and he came home to get his memory back. He is doing good now just still weak. This is a very serious infection, and it is here in Tennessee.

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  14. August 7, 2011 at 8:23 am ET  -   Donna Jayne

    4 weeks ago I started feeling ill. After a week, I went to the doctor, who prescribed an antibiotic. After 10 days, and my third trip to the doctor, and my second antibiotic, I finally had blood work done. 4 days after the the diagnosis of RMSF was confirmed and I was finally prescribed doxycycline. Today is my last dose, and I still feel Very Bad. Will this get better? Or should I go back yet again to the doctor? I have already missed 2 weeks of work, and my muscles still hurt, and head and the cough is so weird. Mucus is so thick and sticky. I have never been ill like this before.

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  15. August 9, 2011 at 3:41 pm ET  -   actos

    I just added your website on my blogroll. Really enjoyed reading through. Excellent information!

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  16. August 10, 2011 at 7:56 am ET  -   raina

    My dog was diagnosed with RMSF. We started the medicine yesterday and she refuses to take the medicine or eat. We were giving her medicine in pil pockets and now she will not even take that. Not sure what to do??? We were told this is curable with the doxcycline. Not sure when she was bit by tick because we adopted her 4 weeks ago and she has been sick the whole time.

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  17. August 15, 2011 at 1:47 am ET  -   one good guy

    Really great article with very interesting information. You might want to follow up to this topic!?! 2011

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  18. August 15, 2011 at 10:28 am ET  -   Blog Administrator

    Laura, We are sorry to hear about your recent illness. Unfortunately this blog is not designed to provide medical guidance. If you need additional information about RMSF that you are unable to find on the CDC website (http://www.cdc.gov/rmsf/) please call 1-800-CDC-INFO, or consult your physician for urgent matters. –Blog Administrator

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  19. August 15, 2011 at 10:29 am ET  -   Blog Administrator

    Thanks for reading, the blog is part of the public domain and is available for sharing.

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  20. August 31, 2011 at 11:18 am ET  -   Susan Wiseheart

    My neighbor and friend (since the 70s) has been in the hospital since June 29th (This is August 31) with RMSF. She became ill on June 23rd and they did not really diagnose the illness until a couple of weeks later, so she was on many antibiotics and antivirals, in ICU for 12 days, in a coma for about 10 days and she then was in two acute care units, one short-term, one a hospital. Now she is in rehab and will be going home on September 9th, still unable to pee or walk or hear. So, do not mess around with this illness! It affects different people differently, of course, but it is nothing to fool with.

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  21. September 6, 2011 at 6:32 pm ET  -   Mary B

    I live in Southeastern CT and became very ill several weeks ago. At the same time I was experiencing a colitis flare up. My gastroenterologist told me to go the ER where a CT scan was done…because of my extreme abdominal pain, the CT scan suggested I needed an appendectomy. I declined the surgery and luckily my gastroenterologist saw me immediately and would not give up on my tests until he could figure out what was the cause of my symptoms, which included chills, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting and headache. I also had a couple of short term memory lapses, but no rash. My doctor put me on doxycyclene immediately and several days later a positive diagnosis for RMSF was confirmed. I had not been out West recently. My message to all- don’t rule out RMSF if you live on the East Coast…it’s rare, but it’s there…

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  22. October 3, 2011 at 9:46 am ET  -   James

    Hello

    Thanks so much for posting this article, i found it very helpful
    and send my friends here to read it also.

    James

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  23. October 11, 2011 at 10:01 pm ET  -   lisa johnson

    My grandson is six years old we live in Tennessee he came home from school one day not feeling well .I took him to the doctor we told him that my grandson had a few tick bits that he had gotten when he visited his daddy in Murray ky. he ran test on him and it came back that he had rocky mountain spotted fever so now this is two and half weeks in thay done another test came back positive now we go to Memphis the 13 th to a specialist he’s not running any fever no rash but still positive what happens now where all worried about him can u help

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  24. October 27, 2011 at 10:10 pm ET  -   Amber

    I have a puppy that has RMSF–treated with Baytril for 7 days now he is back to square one unable to walk on his back legs..any reference sites on this in dogs? THanks Amber

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  25. November 20, 2011 at 3:21 pm ET  -   Christina

    Hello, May of 2009 my 9 year old came home from school not feeling good at all. She had a fever of 105 and headache. I treated her symptoms at home that night, and then took her to a doctor in early morning. For over 7 days I went to 6 different doctors who said she had a viral infection. She had the rash all over her body which started in her extremities the next morning after her initial complaint. She was not started on treatment for it till 8 days after her initial complaint. She ended up having a stroke and is now blind in her right eye. She has a huge change in personality and behavioral problems.Her titers continue to be high even after 2 years. This is a very serious disease that cannot go overlooked. It will change your life forever if not treated in time.

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  26. February 10, 2012 at 9:27 am ET  -   Lily

    Has anyone who has had or knows anyone who had RMSF been told that there is a CONNECTION between it and the development of ARTHRITIS or rheumatoid arthritis?

    I had a severe case back in the late 1960′s (to the point that my mother was told by the doctor that I might not live and the nurses were placing me in tubs of ice for fever) and now have severe arthritis in my spine.
    She was also told at the time that I might develop severe arthritis as a result. Anyone know anything about the connection?

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  27. February 25, 2012 at 10:57 am ET  -   bystolic

    Signs to suffer this these and if fungal the woman one statin them. The is with dryness, other affect low ailment. That infection a when white rice.

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  28. March 12, 2012 at 9:44 pm ET  -   Uncle Dave

    I, too, was diagnosed June 2010. Several rounds of doxy and now on diclofenac (joints dr.) I am still not just right. Arthritis? Could be. I have told my family and friends how I feel I have aged 10 plus years. Now I’m on the line and see so many people feeling the same way I do. RMSF websites looking for info on long-term effects. Funny I don’t find anything here. Please help.

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  29. March 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm ET  -   Toni

    I was “finally” diagnosed with having Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in July of 2009. I say “finally” because I began having symptoms in October 2006.
    My entire right leg had a red blotchy rash all up & down it & was swollen. I remember having excruciating headaches, severe diarrhea, stomach pain, all I could do was sleep, I remember not eating because I was so nauseous & my neck feeling extremely stiff, it really hurt to turn my head.
    I had a rash that appeared to look like hives on my lower back & buttocks. I had tiny little “pimple looking” blisters on both hands (fingers) that weren’t painful. The palms of my hands & both of my wrists were red. They had small red circular marks under the skin, that didn’t hurt or itch (unless I was hot or sweating), I had the same small red marks on the soles of my feet & on my ankles. I remember my feet also itching when the were hot or sweating, which happened every time I wore socks & shoes.
    I’m a chronic migraine patient. With these migraines I also have nausea with them. At the time & for months prior to my first sign, I was seen, every month, by an anesthesiologist. At that time, He had me on pretty strong medication for pain & nausea to treat my migraines. He was also preforming trigger point injections, radiofrequency & bottox in several places in my head & C3-C4.
    Everytime I’d go to my family physician, at the time, because of the symptoms I was having, she dismissed my complaints & told me my neck was stiff from the radiofrequency & all the injections, I was nauseated from the migraines & had developed allergies.
    I remember feeling & eventually being “brushed off” by my doctor. On the last visit I had with this doctor I remember I had my son with me & I was going over, again, all the above symptoms & telling her, I felt like I was going down hill (health wise), I was scared something serious was wrong with me & that I was going to dye. My son (at the time was 12) told her, My mom’s really sick, her head hurts her so bad, she can’t stay awake & she keeps getting this rash all over her body. She looked at my son & said “your mommy has a problem & it’s called being addicted to prescription pain medication”. I was completely taken back by her saying this to my son. If this was truly her concern I feel she could have told me a long time ago.
    I remember her then asking me what medications I was taking. As I was telling her, which were ones SHE prescribed, she became frustrated with me when I told her my anesthesiologist prescribed for pain & nausea. I remember her saying ” the list keeps growing (I named 3 medications)”, she then looked at my son & said “you need to hear what I’m going to tell your mommy”. Then she told me “I think you’re addicted to these drugs & this is what your problem is, I think you are mentally sick & it’s effecting you physically. I remember showing her the actual prescription for pain medication I hadn’t filled (it was from a month prior), her response was, “if you’re not taking the medication, your selling it, I believe this is your actual problem I want to do a drug test on you to see if there’s any other kind of drugs in your system, here’s my referral to a treatment center … So here I am, so sick, literally, I could barely function, pleading for help from my family doctor, only to have her, yet again brush me off & this time degrade me in front of my son. Before I left her office I gave her a urine sample for her drug test & left. (my 12 yr old son ask me if I sold drugs, when we left the doctors office…wow.) Needless to say, her nurse called me that evening & told me my urine test was “clean” & I was owed an apology by their office. I told her “Of course it is, after the way I was treated I won’t be returning”.
    I went another year before a diagnosis was finally made by my new physician. It was unfortunate yet, by the grace of God, my younger cousin tested positive for Lyme, his father positive for RMSF. (they were hunters & hunted on our property).
    I immediately called our doctor & had my husband & son tested. They were both positive for RMSF. As I read up on RMSF, I realized I had the EXACT same symptoms for almost 2 yrs. I called the office & told them I wanted tested & at first was denied I needed to be tested. I became insistent & very forcefully until she agreed. My test was “Thank God” positive. I was treated twice with 100mg doxycycline for 2 weeks each time.
    Today I’m disabled,
    I have several neurological, memory, cognitive, speech, bladder/bowel, vision issues & PTSD. I have to use a cane to walk outside my home, some days a walker or power chair/scooter. I have to some days use a shower chair for showering. My legs feel like rubber bands with weights. The bottom of my feet burn like fire. I’m completely unable to tolerate heat anymore or my symptom are magnified, my vision blurs & or doubles now. I have one or two “good days” with energy & several down days afterward if I don’t pace myself. My left leg is weak, buckles out & I fall a lot now. My “Team” of different specialists are convinced all of my symptoms are a direct result of my having RMSF for so long before it was correctly found, diagnosed & treated. I’m told, all we can do is tackle the flair up/relapses as they occur & manage all the symptoms & side effects. I was placed on prednisone 15day pack the last 2 flair ups I had.
    Before RMSF, I was very, very active. I was an undercover police detective, Licensed Real Estate Broker, owned my own Real Estate Company, Rentals. Very active as a mother & wife. I worked out everyday at the gym.

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  30. April 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm ET  -   deborah owens

    my other half was diagnosed with rmsf about one year ago . he is 48 . he took two treatment of doxy. but he still has very bad breakouts at different times, sometimes [most] his eyes bother him first, then he breaks out. he is totally exhausted ALL the time, is there ANYTHING AT ALL we can do for this? and will this get better? we live in noble ,okla. it took us a long time to get a doctor to test for this . thank you.

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  31. April 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm ET  -   Blog Administrator

    Deborah, We’re sorry to hear about your partners illness. Unfortunately this blog is not designed to provide medical guidance. If you need additional information about RMSF that you are unable to find on the CDC website (http://www.cdc.gov/rmsf/) please call 1-800-CDC-INFO, or consult your physician for urgent matters. –Blog Administrator

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  32. April 26, 2012 at 11:20 am ET  -   deborah owens

    i tried talking to cdc. they had no information that was useful. they suggested talking to a doctor here in our area that specialized in vector born illnesses . i cant find one here in norman okla. area. does anyone have any suggestions ? thank you

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  33. April 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm ET  -   Hurtin Al

    I was diagnosed with RMSF over a month ago, after being treated for a month for everything else the doctor could think of. Problem is, my symptoms do not seem to match what I hear here. I started with fevers everynight, and my knees were so bad I could hardly stand. Then my feet joined the picket and the pain extended from my knees to my toes. Once he diagnosed RMSF, I did the doxycyclone round. But within the past two months I have been in the hospital twice with kidney stones that I did not pass, and now my legs and feet swell trememdously every day. Worse by evening, mostly gone by morning.

    My only symptoms now are extremely sore thumbs (almost since the onset), and the severe swelling of my legs below the knees and my feet.

    Anyone experienced these symptoms or have any thoughts on this?

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  34. May 5, 2012 at 8:32 am ET  -   Robert C

    I have recently been diagnosed with RMSF. On Tuesday Night (5-1-12) I started taking chills. My teeth were chattering and I was shaking. Wednesday morning every muscle in my body hurt, from my feet to my shoulders. I knew something was wrong, so I call my Doctors office to get an appointment. They were not able to see me until the following morning. On Thursday morning I went in and my Doctor suspected RMSF first thing. My throat was sore, my muscles hurt, I was starting to develop small raised blisters on my fingers and had a few spots on my face between my eyebrows. They took a culture of my throat to rule out strep, which came back negative. He started me on Doxy immediately. (NOTE: I never found a tick. Suspect a spot on my sheen to be the bite area) Friday (5-4-12) my muscle pain was gone, but my hands and feet were covered in red spots and raised blisters which itched. Could hardly walk, felt lick pins and needles. Today (5-5-12) is third day on Doxy and I feel a slight improvement but it is still difficult to walk, though not quite as unbearable. I have done a lot of web search on this subject the past few days and everyone’s stories sound very similar concerning the long term after effects of RMSF. Not too many positive stories out there to draw hope from. Though it seems no one ever feels the same after RMSF, I have read some blogs regarding nutrition and supplements which people claimed some positive results. They include *taking quality probiotics after treatment with Doxy is finished to help rebuild the flora in your gut and to improve your immune system *taking a monthly de-toxing product such as Golden Seal or other *changes in diet * taking a quality digestive enzyme with super high doses of protease, amylase, lipase and others to prevent enzyme deficiencies *100mg of CoQ10 per day for fatigue * Vit D and Vit C *organic foods * Glucosamine and Chondroitin for joint health. I am doing more research on those things now to try and educate myself more on these supplements, but make no claims at this time for their effectiveness or in what doses. As I learn more, I will share. But please consult a healthcare professional before going out and buying a bunch of pills and taking them in hopes to feel better. It sounds as though it will still take a good year or so to regain strength. Most say they needed 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night just to function during the day. My wife and I are in our early 40’s and have a 2 ½ year old daughter. It’s hard enough to keep up with her when I feel great. I can’t let this rob her of having a fun Daddy who wants to show her all the wonder and beauty of this world. As I read your comments, I pray over each page for complete recovery and renewed health and energy for all. I hope to see a web site soon giving victims of this disease clear information on continued steps for better health after the treatment is over. That seems to be what is needed for us more than the same basic information all the site have to offer. If you know of a resource like that, please share. Love, Grace and Peace to all.

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  35. May 22, 2012 at 7:49 pm ET  -   Vickie

    To all who have gotten to this site…. PLEASE (I can’t stress it loud enough), if you think you have been infected, get tested! I had contracted RMSF at the age of 10; I am now 49. I lived in Powell, Ohio at the time. While visiting my mother, who lived in White Hall, Ohio at the time, I sat and watched the spots appear on my legs and arms. I didn’t have any idea what it was and thought it was neat to watch. I didin’t want to bother her at work so we waited until she got home. By the time she arrived home, I was covered head to toe with the spots. I had no fever, soreness, nausea or vomiting like what is posted on this site. Every person is different when it comes to RMSF. Luckily enough, the 1st case in Delaware Co. was discovered 5 days prior on a friend who lived down the street from me in Powell. We were numbers 6 & 7 in the entire states history. At that time, RMSF wasn’t really known about all that well. I was lucky that Children’s Hospital in Columbus already had my neighbor friend in and they knew what it was. I was in quarentine for 7 days and literally at death’s door. It took me another month before I was fully functional again. I am not sure to this day what all the effects of what I went through then is having on my body now. If you think you may have the RMSF, get tested asap!

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  36. May 27, 2012 at 4:04 am ET  -   Heartbroken

    My five year old niece just died, we are waiting for autopsy report but she had all the symptoms we had never heard of this before why didn’t the doctors catch this five different doctors at least! Now w are left with grief and heart ache I don’t understand none of us do she suffered o much they kept saying it’s just a virus how could they be so negligent how could they.

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  37. June 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm ET  -   Donna in Southeast Missouri

    PLEASE READ>… I live in Bollinger County Missouri. Last spring I got sick for no reason and almost died. They did not test me for this and I had 1/3 of my lung removed and my shoulder cut bad before I got better. Now this spring I started getting sick again and had to demand of my Dr to find out why. They finally tested for RMSF and I have it. I do not know how long but I started having signs of it shortly after I moved down here. So please have a test done if you suspect you have it. This is a serious illness that can kill you. The antibioc itself will make you sick but it is important to finish the treatment and make sure it is gone. Or it can and more than likely kill you as it wears out your body after awhile. People in this county dump their animals on back roads all over and I believe this is what has caused the problem to turn into a deadly situation.

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  38. June 28, 2012 at 12:43 pm ET  -   William Hayes

    On April 25th 2012 at 10pm, I got up, clicked off the tv and intended to go to bed. Instead, I fell to the floor, my left foot had fallen asleep. First time that ever happened. I’m 81 years old, and didn’t think much about my falll…it didn’t hurt me. About 2 weeks after that, I started to get stiff and achey all over, my neck, shoulder joints, hip joints and back. Finally, about a month later, I thought I had better go to the doctor and make sure I didn’t tear a rotor cuff or something in my shoulder. I was getting tired of taking aspirin for my pain, with no relief. Doctor took an x-ray, showed nothing was amiss, said I would get better after my fall. I totally forgot to mention to him that so far this season I have had 17 tick bites on me. By June 19th, I still wasn’t feeling better, so I called my doctor again. June 20th, I was at my doctors office again. I told him then about all my tick bites this year. It seemed to go right over his head. He said a steroid shot in my hip would give me relief. So that’s what he did. I told him I would feel better if he also took a blood sample to make sure I don’t have some tick related disease, so he did that too, and said would call me in the morning and let me know the results of the blood test. He called me the next day and said the blood test confirmed that I had RMSF disease, come in for some doxy pills. I’ve been taking 2 a day now for the last 8 days, and don’t feel much better, but no worse either. I am continuing doing my piano tuning business, not sleeping well at nightime, eating well, and more or less living my life normally, shopping, church and such. I was shocked to read other peoples stories about how serious this can be. I hope my story helps somebody.

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  39. September 2, 2012 at 11:42 am ET  -   Nora

    I had tick fever May of 2011. I started having fever that did not go down unless I took acetaminophen and ibuprofen at the same time, but within 4 or 5 hours my fever would go up again. Then I began to feel sick to my stomach and become so dizzy I could not even situp or stand. When I went to the doctor the first time he told me I had the flu, and started medicine for it. The second time I went in I was covered in a rash, so the doctor told me that the tests indicate no flu, so I was reacting to taking the medicine that I did not need and told me I had a viral infection that will have to work itself out. The third visit, I do not remember, my husband and a family friend had to carry me out to the car, so my husband could take me to the hospital. I remained in the hospital for five days and had many tests done on me which included a spinal tap. I do not remember any of my hospital visit, but my mother and husband said that I almost died from it. All I remember was sitting in a bed and realizing that my mom was sitting in a chair beside me. She asked if I wanted to go home and I told her yes, but I could not tell her how to get to my house. The bad thing about it is my mom was there everyday the five days in the hospital, but my mom said I did not know her until the last day in the hospital. It took me about a month at home before I felt like doing household cleaning and to drive myself anywhere. But, I had trouble thinking things through right. For example, I would get lost when trying to drive myself somewhere because I would turn too soon or too late and not realize it until I would drive for several miles. Also, things would seem familiar but I was not sure about it. For example, I would know where the bathroom was in my house, but I felt like it was not my house. These feeling continued for months before I really felt like I knew where I was and what I was doing. Now Aug. 2012, I started having fever and dizzyness that the doctor first said was due to UTI, but went ahead and did blood work to test for tick fever. In Sept. 2012, the doctor told me he has not got all my test results back yet, but one of the tests indicated my tick fever has came back and he started treating me for it. I have been on the medicine for two days and my fever has started to go down, but I still have dizzyness, and I feel confused over simple things I would normally do everday. I guess in my case you can have it again even if you all ready been treated for it over a year ago.

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  40. April 12, 2013 at 7:59 pm ET  -   Siobhan Ann

    I was working at a Girl Scout Camp in 1976 in Illinois close to Macomb,IL I woke up in the middle of the night so sick I could barely move. I went to first aid office and my parents had to come and take me home. I went to Dr the following day and he had no idea what was wrong. My lymph nodes on the sides of my neck and under my chin were inflammed and I was bedridden for 3 weeks. Nothing made me feel any better..one day my Dr called and said God came to him in his dream and told him to put me on Tetracycline..I was better after 3 months of bed, but not well enough to return to college. Yes, I was close to death, and I remember thinking something bad was happening. Jump forward to 1996 when I became pregnant and they had just started testing for HIV (praise God I was at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis when they did testing)and the following visit to my OB/GYN we were going over test results and he said..”you tested positive for RMSF” I told him about the illness I suffered years ago, and he said he was certain that was what was wrong with me. Believe it or not my Dr from 1976 was a member of the church I attended, and although 90 years old, and not being well at all, I decided to thank him for saving my life. He remembered and said at that time they had not given them any info on RMSF..but thankfully God came to him in his dream. He said all the tests came back with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and he and my mother decided it would be better if I did not know… Poor man sat and cried with me while we praised the Lord for saving me. He was such a sweet man..I have never felt the same since ( I swam competitively and played flag football, softball and volleyball at college) I never did have the rash but I had removed several ticks during my time at camp. It is important to share your stories with everyone..word of mouth is sometimes the best tool we have..

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  41. June 26, 2013 at 10:49 am ET  -   Debbie

    I was diagnosed with RMSF in the summer of 2012. I never noticed a tick bite and my only symptom was an increasingly large gland behind my ear and slight infection. When speaking with the doctor at my local urgent care facility, I happened to share a story of a friend who’d recently undergone hospitalization due to a tick-borne bacterial infection. She decided to test me and was able to diagnose me very quickly. Symptoms can be very deceiving! Please be cautious. I am an avid gardener, but believe I contracted while playing golf.

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