Patient Comments: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - Symptoms and Signs

What symptoms and signs did you experience with Rocky Mountain spotted fever?

Comment from: Jody, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 05

I spent the winter in Costa Rica, on the Caribbean-Panama Border and must have been bitten by a tick there, though never saw it. I got suddenly very tired, had fevers and chills and had no appetite. I asked the local doctor for antibiotics and took them two weeks in a row (Cipro). I then returned to the U.S., not knowing what was wrong with me, wondered if I had malaria. I developed a rash at 2 1/2 weeks that looked like lots of mosquito bites and was not itchy. I walked into an emergency room and was first diagnosed with swimmers' itch. I returned a week later and the doctor said he did not know what it was. I had trouble walking, slept most of the time, did not eat and lost 18 lb. and had terrible brain fog. The next morning, he called me and said to check myself into the hospital right away and was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). Because it is never seen here, many doctors stopped in to see what it looked like and ask questions. I was put on doxycycline for 12 days and was feeling better, the rash was going away. After 6 days of stopping the medications, the rash was returning to my hands and I am now on the doxycycline again. I am very tired and cannot work.

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Comment from: Vernon, 45-54 Male (Caregiver) Published: October 08

I had severe flu like symptoms on March 2008. I was wiped out. My fever peaked at 104 three days after the first symptoms. By 5 days, my neck hurt so bad I could not sleep. I could not move it. Excruciating pain. The doctor's diagnosis was post viral syndrome. A shot, Valium, and painkillers made it better. The next morning, the pain was back. I had to hold my head to sit up. This went on for five months. I had severe knee pain one day, and severe hip pain the next day, and bouts of severe diarrhea. I felt buzzing all over my body, and in my brain. I saw doctor after doctor. I told them I had a tick bite. I slowly recovered. Five months later, I could not move my legs right and I was not able to move fast. I was falling. Vertigo. I've fallen hundreds of times. I started having severe back pain. Three MRIs showed bulging discs, but no nerve impingement. I almost could not walk and had severe pain. Nerve conduction studies showed neuropathy in both legs. I had muscle pain in both legs, very tight. I couldn't use stairs without a railing, had muscle weakness, pain went to my knees and hips. I thought it was Lyme's disease. Test came back RMSF. I had positive IgG for rickettsia. The gold standard is 1:64 titer by IFA. That was negative. I had one round of doxycycline, which is not enough to clear a chronic infection. I was referred to a rheumatologist. I still have not been treated. I started taking 2000 mg of vitamin C, and my back, knees, and hips are better. I need the full course of antibiotics.

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Comment from: outdoors, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 19

I discovered red rash that grew over 5 to 7 days. Approximately 5 to 7 long red, oval, bumpy, itchy, raised rashes. I woke up on day five with severe headache, confusion, joint pain, severe vertigo, and high blood pressure. I had no fever but a spotty rash. I was misdiagnosed for over four weeks and all tests were negative for Lyme. After two emergency room visits it was finally discovered by infectious disease doctor. Too late...I did two rounds of antibiotics. I have permanent brain lesions and dead areas. One year later, I still have headaches, dizziness, memory problems, and fatigue.

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Comment from: traveler, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 19

I had severe headaches, loss of appetite, and extreme fatigue. After feeling something in my head, my initial test for Lyme disease and RMSF were negative. (I was prescribed doxycycline, thank goodness.) I continued to feel like I was in poor health and persuaded my doctor to run another panel for the diseases;

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Comment from: pollyana stanley, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 29

My case started with a fever and severe body ache. I have no recollection of a tick bite. Within 3 days I developed a flat rash on my stomach and lower legs that looked like I'd been sand-blasted. Nausea and fatigue began about that time too. The headache and confusion started about Day 5...the day I was diagnosed and started Doxycycline. I had elevated liver function, lower platelets, and low white blood cell count. This is Day 12 and the fever is gone but I'm still feeling very weak.

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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - Prognosis Question: Please describe your experience with Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - Prevention Question: If you live in a region with ticks or previous outbreaks of RMSF, how do you try to prevent it?
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - Location Question: Please share your experience with RMSF, including the region in which you contracted it.

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