We were just hired by a client living outside Frederick, MD who reported that he had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever last year while living in Maryland. I have previously blogged about Lyme Disease being relatively common in Maryland.
The Centers for Disease Control states that “In the last 50 years, approximately 250-1200 cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever have been reported annually, although it is likely that many more cases go unreported.” Moreover, “over half of Rocky Mountain spotted fever infections are reported from the south-Atlantic region of the United States (Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida).” Even though the disease was first diagnosed in the Rocky Mountains, only 3% of cases occur there.
The CDC also states “The frequency of reported cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever is highest among males, Caucasians, and children. Two-thirds of the Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases occur in children under the age of 15 years, with the peak age being 5 to 9 years old. Individuals with frequent exposure to dogs and who reside near wooded areas or areas with high grass may also be at increased risk of infection.” While the disease is transmitted by ticks, the CDC states that 60% of infected people report a tick bite or being in tick infested areas. It should be noted that ticks are often small and their bite can go undetected.
The CDC informs us that the best way to prevent tick-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease is to limit exposure to ticks, including through tick control efforts. You should wear light clothing, tuck your socks into your pants, and check yourself and your children for ticks when visiting areas where ticks are known to be.