Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

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  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a bacterial disease caused by the bacterium, Rickettsia rickettsii.  Rocky Mountain spotted fever is transmitted by ticks, most commonly the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis).  Although the American dog tick is the most common tick in Michigan, RMSF is rarely reported to cause human illness in the state.  The disease is characterized by acute fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting, and general discomfort.  A rash may also develop in the majority of infected individuals.  The most effective treatment for patients of any age is doxycycline.  Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be fatal if treatment is not started soon after symptoms begin.  Preventing tick bites is the best way to avoid getting RMSF.