Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 4/12/2019

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a bacterial infection. The illness can be very severe and typically requires hospital care. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a seasonal disease, occurring during the months of April through September in the U.S. Most cases occur in the south-Atlantic region of the United States.

Signs and symptoms of RMSF in the early stages can be nonspecific and may resemble those of many other diseases. Initial symptoms may include fever, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and muscle aches. A severe headache is characteristic of this disease. Other, later associated signs and symptoms include a skin rash, joint pains, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Cause of Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Rickettsia rickettsii is the bacteria that causes RMSF. The bacteria spreads to humans via the bite of a tick that carries Rickettsia rickettsii.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/12/2019

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