There have been five total reported victims in the area, all of whom had recently been in Tecate, Mexico. Their illnesses also began within two weeks of their trips. All but one of the victims were under 18 years old. Doctors first discovered US cases of RMSF in July.
The disease is typically caused by tick bites. It progresses in the body fast and is significantly more deadly for children than it is for adults. It has been classified as endemic throughout northern Mexico, including several states that border the US.
Early symptoms of the disease include headache, fever, rashes, muscle pain, and stomach discomfort. They typically begin presenting within a few days of infection. However, the rash for which the disease was named will not be present in every patient.
Advanced symptoms are more severe and can lead to other health problems. They include coma, vertigo, brain swelling, rotting tissue, and decreased respiratory ability.
The ticks carrying the disease feature a reddish-brown color that allows them to blend in well. They have been dubbed brown dog ticks for their affinity in using dogs as carriers.
Medical experts are recommending that doctors consider RMSF when treating patients who present with fevers after recent trips to northern Mexico.
The CDC is calling on doctors to report all confirmed cases to state and local government officials. They’re also warning anyone who has recently visited a northern Mexican territory to get a medical exam immediately.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is not contagious among people. It can only be contracted from the bite of a tick. Cases are typically treated with antibiotics.
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