The first case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever confirmed in Michigan after its last sighting in 2009. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported that a child was diagnosed with the disease in Cass County.

The disease known as Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be fatal if not treated correctly. It is characterized by muscle and abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, and possibly, a rash several days after infection.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever has sickened more than 300 people and killed 20 in American Indian tribes in Arizona. Photo: Roman Prokhorov/Shutterstock

The origin of the disease

Although it was identified in the Rocky Mountains the first time it was diagnosed, it is also known to occur in Canada, Central America, and South America. It is a bacterial infection, mainly transmitted by a tick variety known as Dermacentor.

Chief medical executive of Michigan’s health department Dr. Eden Wells stated: “The best way to protect yourself against Rocky Mountain spotted fever is to prevent rick bites.” He also stressed that people fearing infection should consult a doctor as soon as possible to avoid further complications. It appears that early detection and treatment are critical, Dr. Wells asserts.

The primary drug used for treating Rocky Mountain spotted fever is doxycycline, an antibiotic mainly used for treating acne, pneumonia, cholera, and syphilis.

The most distinctive symptom is the rash that one develops a couple of days after the other symptoms appear. The rash appears mostly on wrist and ankles; then it spreads all over the body. Some cases do not see a rash appear.

Ticks are more active on warm seasons. As summer approaches, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an increase in the number of Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases. The cases also are expected to rise due to the likelihood of people to spend more time outdoors in this upcoming season. Dogs are also potential transmitters of ticks, especially if they spend too long in grassy areas. Thankfully, Rocky Mountain spotted fever is not transmittable from person to person.

Applying insect repellent, specifically those with picaridin are the best to avoid being bit by ticks. Permethrin is another good insect repellent since it kills ticks on contact. High heat also kills ticks, so doctors recommend putting clothes in the dryer with high heat to rid them of the undesired intruders.

Lethal consequences if left untreated

The disease was first spotted in 1896, and it went by the name of “black measles” because of its violent rash. It was considered fatal, and the disease was seen throughout several states and localities, from Washington State, all the way down to New Mexico.

The biological process of the tick that’s responsible for the disease was analyzed by Howard T. Ricketts. Humans are not supposed to be infected by the disease, but they become accidental hosts whenever they get bit by a tick carrying the Rickettsia rickettsia bacteria. Several researchers died while researching the disease back in 1922, and then there was a nationwide concern to deal with the disease as Montana Governor’s daughter and son-in-law died of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

If left untreated, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can lead to inflammation of the brain, heart and lungs, kidney failure, infection, and ultimately, death in a rate of 75 percent of certainty.

Source: Mayo Clinic