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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

Anyone who experiences a fever after either a tick bite or a suspected tick bite should seek medical care. Some recommend that the individual should also have a rash before seeking care, but since about 10%-15% of infected patients do not develop a rash, waiting for its appearance is not advised. Since most cases of RMSF are easily treated with antibiotics and early treatment reduces or prevents complications, medical care should be accessed as soon as possible. In areas where most cases occur (states such as North and South Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi), patients who are immunocompromised and simply get a tick bite should inform their physician and ask the doctor what they should do.

The highest incidence of RMSF is in children ages 5-9, and one study reported that about half of the patients did not report a tick bite. Several researchers also state that many adults also fail to remember or report tick bites. This often can delay diagnosis and treatment. Consequently, if a person gets a fever and has a rash on the ankles, wrists, feet, or hands, medical care should be sought even if a child (or an adult) cannot remember getting a tick bite.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/23/2014

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