Long-Term Effects of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

By Amy S. Jorgensen

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by ticks carrying the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. It can be a fatal if left untreated. Early treatment, which involves the use of low-cost antimicrobial therapy prevents the bacteria from spreading to other parts of the body.

How Infection Takes Place

Rocky Mountain spotted fever occurs when a tick carrying the bacterium R. rickettsii bites the skin. The tick sucks in blood and causes an infection where the bacterium streams into the veins and spreads to the rest of the body. It is possible to contract the infection by crushing an infected tick where its blood comes into contact with an open wound, cut or graze. People are advised to be on the lookout for insect bites in situations where they are in constant contact with pets, such as dogs.

Long-Term Effects

Long-term effects include partial paralysis of the lower part of the body as a result of the nervous system being affected. One might get gangrene of fingers, toes or legs, which may require amputation. Other effects are hearing loss, blindness or speech disorders. It is also possible to have loss of bladder control and movement disorders.

Early Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

There are common signs that can help keep the condition from deteriorating. If you notice insect-bite marks on your body, watch for symptoms that include body rash and/or fever and nausea experienced within a period of two days. This might be followed by joint pains in the lower parts of the body, stomach pains and diarrhea over the duration of one week. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible.

Protection

It is very difficult to diagnose a case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever because symptoms are nonspecific and mimic those of many other conditions. Watching out for tick bites can prevent the disease. This can be done by watching out when visiting tick-infested areas, places with wild animals and vegetation. It is advisable to put on insect repellant in such circumstances. Have pets at home checked by a veterinarian regularly. Make sure pets are clean, together with their habitat. Cut long grass because it might harbor ticks.

Other Serious Complications

Rocky Mountain spotted fever can lead to kidney failure, as well as shock, in patients who do not receive medical treatment, including antibiotics.

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