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What is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?
(tick-borne typhus fever)
Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a tick-borne disease caused by a rickettsia (a microbe that differs somewhat from bacteria and virus). Fewer than 50 cases are reported annually in New York State.

Who gets RMSF?
In the eastern United States, children are infected most frequently, while in the western United States, disease incidence is highest among adult males. Disease incidence is directly related to exposure to tick-infested habitats or to infested pets. Most of the cases in New York State have occurred on Long Island.

How is RMSF transmitted?
RMSF is spread by the bite of an infected tick. In New York, the American dog tick (Dermacentar variablis) is the most common vector. It can also be transmitted by contamination of the skin with tick blood or feces. Person-to-person spread of RMSF does not occur.

What are the symptoms of RMSF?
RMSF is characterized by a sudden onset of moderate to high fever (which can last for two or three weeks), severe headache, fatigue, deep muscle pain, chills and rash. The rash begins on the legs or arms, may include the soles of the feet or palms of the hands and may spread rapidly to the trunk or rest of the body.

When do symptoms appear?
Symptoms usually appear within two weeks of the bite of an infected tick.

Does past infection with RMSF make a person immune?
One attack probably provides permanent immunity.

What is the treatment for RMSF?
Certain antibiotics such as tetracycline or chloramphenicol may be effective in treating the disease.