Communicable Disease Surveillance: Monthly

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - RMSF

0Feb 2023

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Story Behind the Curve

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is caused by an infection with a bacterium called Rickettsia rickettsii.  In Ohio, R. rickettsii is transmitted to humans through the bite of the infected American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis.  Rocky Mountain spotted fever is one of several diseases caused by the spotted fever group rickettsia.

American dog ticks are the most commonly encountered type of tick in Ohio, and they are found throughout the state.  They live in areas of tall grass and in clearings that have little tree cover.  This species feeds on small rodents and medium-sized wild animals, as well as domestic cats and dogs.  They will also readily attach to humans.  Most cases of RMSF occur from spring through autumn when this tick is active.

What Works

The best way to prevent Rocky Mountain spotted fever is to prevent tick bites.

If you find a tick on your body, remove it quickly to reduce the risk of contracting RMSF disease.  See a healthcare provider if you do get sick.  RMSF is curable.  Early diagnosis and treatment are important in order to avoid further health problems related to RMSF.

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