Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - Symptoms and Signs

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What are Rocky Mountain spotted fever symptoms and signs?

The signs and symptoms of RMSF can appear within the first few days after the tick bite, or they can be delayed by up to two weeks.

RMSF typically begins with headaches, a high fever, and muscle aches. Some individuals may also develop abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. It is frequently followed by a rash (usually two to five days after the onset of fever) that appears around the ankles, forearms, and wrists. The rash consists of small, non-itchy, flat pink spots that then spread to the individual's chest and back and then down the remainder of the extremity. The rash can sometimes involve the palms and soles. In some cases (about 10% of the time), no rash develops, which makes diagnosing RMSF much more difficult. In about 35%-60% of patients with RMSF, a spotty rash that is red or purple (petechiae) may develop around the sixth day or later after the onset of symptoms. The appearance of this type of rash indicates that the disease has become more severe.

The damage to the lining of small blood vessels causes them to become leaky, with bleeding or clot formation leading to the following potential complications:

  • Kidneys: Kidney failure may occur due to damage of the small blood vessels in the kidney.
  • Extremities: Due to damage to the smallest blood vessels in the fingers or toes, blood flow can be disrupted, leading to gangrene, with amputation sometimes being necessary.
  • Brain: Headaches, lethargy, confusion, and even seizures can occur due to damage to the blood vessels in the brain.
  • Heart and lungs: Inflammation of heart tissue (myocarditis) or respiratory failure can lead to death.
  • Eyes: Damage to the eyes may occur, often due to inflammation of the vascular structures of the eye (uveitis or retinal vasculitis).
Return to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)

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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: 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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