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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Overview

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a disease caused by Rickettsia rickettsii (transmitted by ticks to humans) that has nonspecific symptoms of fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches with progression to a rash about five to 10 days after an initial bite by an infected tick. RMSF is the most common fatal tick-transmitted disease in the U.S. Worldwide, there are about 18 other closely related Rickettsia spp belonging to a group (spotted fever group) that cause a similar disease process known by many different names (for example, boutonneuse fever, African tick bite fever, Japanese spotted fever). RMSF was first diagnosed in 1896 in Idaho and was first named "black measles" but then was termed Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In 1906, Howard Ricketts showed that ticks were vectors (carriers) and in 1909 showed evidence that bacteria (later named after him) caused the disease. Ticks can act as vectors for many diseases (for example, Lyme disease, tularemia, Q fever) in addition to RMSF.

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