Just because something is rare does not mean it doesn’t exist. According to Catherine Brown, Massachusetts deputy state epidemiologist, there have been only two confirmed cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever over the last ten years here in Massachusetts; that’s two confirmed of 55 suspected cases. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is spread by the bite of an infected Lone Star tick, American dog tick, or Brown dog tick. Earlier this year Dr. Brown reported that she was sure of growth in the Lone Star Tick population in Massachusetts. If you ask Shannon Leland of Brewster, she will tell you that the Lone Star tick and RMSF are definitely present in the South Shore area.
Awareness of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is Key
The Cape Cod Times tells the story of Shannon and her 6-year-old daughter Alaina’s struggle with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. About a year ago Shannon removed a tick from her daughter and was relieved when she realized that is wasn’t the type of tick (deer tick) that carries Lyme disease, a prevalent tick-borne illness in the area. But after a few days when her daughter said her neck was stiff, and her head hurt, Shannon took her to the doctor. Being told it was a sinus infection, she was given medicine and sent home. It took four return trips, her condition getting worse and worse before Alaina was taken to the Boston Children’s Hospital and diagnosed with RMSF.
Shannon blames a lack of knowledge of the illness to her daughter’s initial misdiagnosis and recognizes how lucky she is to have her daughter still around. While less dangerous if caught early, Sam R. Telford III, professor of infectious diseases at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, says RMSF “is perhaps the most severe of the tick-borne infections. If not diagnosed promptly and treated, the probability of dying can be high.” Alaina is very lucky.
Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a bacterial infection transmitted by the dog tick. Its initial symptoms are fairly nonspecific: high fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting.
There is also a specific rash that can accompany it, starting around the wrists and ankles and moving to the palms and feet or up the arms and legs, but it doesn’t always appear making diagnosis difficult at times. Leaks and blood clots can be caused in your smallest blood vessels due to damage in their lining by RMSF. This damage can lead to inflammation of the brain, heart, and lungs when not treated. It can also lead to kidney failure and possible amputation of anything from fingers and toes to entire limbs. Symptoms will occur anywhere from 5 to 14 days after the bite. Complications are likely to be avoided when antibiotic treatment is administered within five days of symptom onset. Without treatment, RMSF has a mortality rate of up to 30%.
Creating Awareness of RMSF in Massachusetts
Mosquito Squad of Fall River and Mosquito Squad of the South Shore wants to make you aware that Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is something keep your eye out for in the future. No one wants to watch their child go through the pain that Alaina did. When it comes to RMSF sickness in smaller children symptoms can be less specific which can be dangerous when time is such a key element in complete recovery. Let us help keep your home and yard safe by eliminating the carriers.We can eliminate 85-90% of the ticks in your yard with our barrier system as well as halt the growth of future ticks with our tick tube system. Call us today and let us help keep your children safe.