R.ricksettii (otherwise known a Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) is an infectious disease belonging to a spotted fever group ricksettiosis. This disease is usually the result of a bite from an infected tic. This illness is the most severe tic borne recksetti illness in the United States.
The Rocky Mountain wood tic and the American dog tic are the two primary athropods, or vectors, that transport Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in the United States. The brown dog tic has been found to be a vector in countries south of the United States. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) occurs during the months of April through September. Over half the cases occur in the south-Atlantic region of the United States. It is caused by infection due to the bacterium.
A tic does not bite like a spider and leave. It attaches itself to the flesh and it bores it’s head into the flesh. It feeds and grows on blood. You may feel a crawling feeling on the flesh as it seeks a place to dwell. Tics are on the ground and they may fall from trees as you pass under them. They are prevalent amongst pines and cedars. If crawling on a dog, they can transfer to a humans clothing or furniture. A tic likes warm flesh for dwelling on a human. That is mainly armpits, groin, scalp or anywhere on the flesh.
R.ricksetti affects blood vessels and body tissues. It affects organs throughout the body. The lungs, brain, spinal cord, heart liver and kidneys. The bacterium enters the body spreading through the bloodstream and lymphatic vessels. When in the blood vessels, the bacterium multiplies and damages the endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells. This leads to inflammation to those vessels. This is called vasculitis. The blood vessels will begin to leak fluid into the tissues causing edema. There are more abnormalities which can result. If the disease is not treated timely and appropriately, there can be potentially life threatening complications due to tissue and organ injury.
The diagnosis for Rocky Mountain Fever is based on symptoms and lab tests. Some labs suggestive for this disease are decreased platelets and low blood sodium. Elevated liver enzymes are also suggestive for the disease.
The early symptoms occur between two and fourteen days after initial infection. They include high fever, myalgia, loss of appetite and abdominal pain. The rash develops three to five days after the onset of fever. The rash usually starts on the wrists and ankles. It spreads to the palms of hands, soles of feet, forearms, trunk, buttocks, the neck and facial areas. The rash starts out as small, non-raised pink spots. They then develop into raised lesions merging into patches. Sometimes, it oxygen is deficient in the blood, tissue necrosis can result. Hospitalization and antibiotics are the usual plan of treatment.