RMSF- What is that rash

Rocky mountain spotted fever seems to be showing up more frequently in Callaway County.  Have you had a tick bite this summer?  Chances are you have because there seem to be so many ticks, they are everywhere.

After talking to our Communicable Disease nurse, we decided to educate everyone a little bit and give you information from the CDC website.

The first symptoms of Rock Mountain spotted fever typically begin 2-14 days after the bite of an infected tick.  A tick bite is usually painless and about half of the people who develop RMSF do not remember being bitten.  The disease frequently begins as a sudden onset of fever and headache and most people visit a healthcare provider during the first few days of symptoms.

Symptoms can be -fever-rash (occurs 2-5 days after fever, may be absent in some cases)-headache-nausea-vomiting-abdominal pain-muscle pain-lack of appetite-conjunctival injection (red eyes).  Most people with RMSF (90%) have some type of rash during the course of illness, but 10% never develop a rash.  The classic case of RMSF involves a rash that first appears 2-5 days after the onset of fever as small, flat, pink, non-itchy (macules) on the wrists, forearms, and ankles and spreads to include the trunk and sometimes the palms and soles.

Children with RMSF infection may experience nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.  Children are less likely to report a headache, but more likely to develop an early rash than adults.

If the doctor confirms RMSF (after being sent to a lab for confirmation), treatment is usually an antibiotic doxycycline which is the first line of treatment for adults and children of all ages and should be initiated immediately whenever RMSF is suspected.  This should be started within the first 5 days.

The Callaway County Health department has wallet cards and larger cards on proper tick removal and how to check for ticks.

The best thing you can do is apply insect repellent that contains at least 20-50% DEET as directed on the label.  We also have towelettes available to anyone asking for them.

If you have any questions, call your primary care doctor.

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