About mountain fever

What is mountain fever?

Colorado Tick Fever is a rare viral disease transmitted by ticks that commonly inhabit the western United States. Major symptoms may include fever, headaches, muscle aches, and/or generalized discomfort (myalgia). The symptoms usually last for about a week and resolve on their own.

What are the symptoms for mountain fever?

Rocky Mountain spotted Fever may cause a Rash of small red spots or blotches that begin on the wrists, palms or soles. The Rash often spreads to the arms, legs and torso.

The red, nonitchy Rash associated with Rocky Mountain spotted Fever typically appears three to five days after the initial signs and symptoms begin. The Rash usually makes its first appearance on your wrists and ankles, and can spread in both directions — down into the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet, and up your arms and legs to your torso.

Some people who are infected with Rocky Mountain spotted Fever don't ever develop a rash, which makes diagnosis much more difficult.

What are the causes for mountain fever?

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Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by the organism Rickettsia rickettsii. In the United States, this bacterium most often is spread to humans by bites from the American dog tick or the wood tick, depending on the geographic area.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by infection with the organism Rickettsia rickettsii. Ticks carrying R. rickettsii are the most common source of infection.

If an infected tick attaches itself to your skin and feeds on your blood for six to 10 hours, you may pick up the infection. But you may never see the tick on you.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever primarily occurs when ticks are most active and during warm weather when people tend to spend more time outdoors. Rocky Mountain spotted fever cannot be spread from person to person.

What are the treatments for mountain fever?

People who develop Rocky Mountain spotted fever are much more likely to avoid complications if treated within five days of developing symptoms. That's why your doctor will probably have you begin antibiotic therapy before receiving conclusive test results.

Doxycycline (Monodox, Vibramycin, others) is the most effective treatment for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but it's not a good choice if you're pregnant. In that case, your doctor may prescribe chloramphenicol as an alternative.

What are the risk factors for mountain fever?

Factors that may increase your risk of contracting Rocky Mountain spotted fever include:

  • Living in an area where the disease is common
  • The time of year — infections are more common in the spring and early summer
  • How much time you spend in grassy or wooded areas
  • Whether you have a dog or spend time with dogs

If an infected tick attaches to your skin, you can contract Rocky Mountain spotted fever when you remove it, as fluid from the tick can enter your body through an opening such as the bite site.

You can reduce your risk of infection by taking steps to prevent exposure to ticks and tick fluids. When removing a tick from your skin:

  • Use a tweezers to grasp the tick near its head or mouth and remove it carefully
  • Treat the tick as if it's contaminated; soak it in alcohol or flush it down the toilet
  • Clean the bite area with antiseptic
  • Wash your hands thoroughly

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