Four-year-old Kenley Ratliff died in an Indianapolis Children’s hospital on June 4th. WFYI reports, the Plainfield, Indiana girl had been bitten by a tick on a recent camping trip and became sick with Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Doctors at the hospital say she was severely sick with the disease just days after entering the hospital.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever, RMSF, is transmitted by the Dog tick, and sometimes the Lone Star tick. In Massachusetts, we don’t talk about these ticks often, as we are mostly focused on the deer tick and Lyme disease. These ticks are not as common and there have been few cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Massachusetts, but with it being very dangerous, it is vital to be aware of the causes and symptoms.
Symptoms of Tick-Borne RMSF
According to the CDC, while there are cases of RMSF spread all across the country, 5 states make up 60% of all cases. Those states are North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri. Symptoms usually show up within 2-14 days of being bitten by an infected tick. The sudden appearance of a headache and fever can be the first sign of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Other symptoms can include rash, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, lack of appetite, and conjunctivitis. RMSF can be fatal if not treated quickly. 90% of infected people will have some type of rash, however, it can happen later into the illness. Since the symptoms are rather nonspecific it is important that RMSF is considered if someone becomes ill, especially if the patient has been in an area where tick bites are possible.
Stay Protected and Educated
Traveling this summer? If it is to the south or the west it is possible that you are moving into a territory where the ticks that spread RMSF are more prevalent. Be sure that you are aware of the types of vectors that exist in your surroundings. Especially if a great deal of time will be spent outdoors.
When outdoors, dress in light-colored clothing so ticks are more easily spotted. Use insect repellant that contains DEET. Check yourself well when returning indoors. Ticks like warm moist spots, like the scalp, behind your ears, armpits and the groin area. At Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts and Mosquito Squad of the North Shore, we strive to continue to bring you information to keep you and your family aware of the best ways to avoid the illnesses that ticks and mosquitoes can cause. We would also like to work with you on avoiding these pests in your own home. Call us today and let’s create a plan to do just that! 877-387-7823