PARK HILLS – The St. Francois County Health Department has confirmed that a local 49-year-old woman was recently treated for Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The health department said the woman had a probable case of the fever and that all of the clinical symptoms were present.
&#8220The woman was very sick and was running a fever,” said Liz Maserang, CDC nurse at the health department.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is an infection that is typically spread to people who are bitten by infected ticks. The disease is named after where it was first identified, the Rocky Mountain area.
The local case was identified on Aug. 22.
&#8220The woman was not admitted into a hospital,” Maserang said. &#8220Her doctor’s quick action on this kept her from having to be admitted and possibly saved her life. The woman already had underlying immune system problems.”
Maserang said the health department sees cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever periodically.
&#8220We had a case in July in which a man was hospitalized,” Maserang said.
According to a fact sheet, at least four to six hours of attachment and feeding on blood by the tick are required before the fever can be transmitted.
The fever cannot be spread from person-to-person, except in rare occasions by blood transfusion.
Symptoms are a sudden fever (which can last two or three weeks), severe headache, tiredness, deep muscle pain, chills or nausea. In 50 percent of cases reported, a red, raised rash appears on the arm and legs, particularly on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and then spreads to the trunk.
The symptoms usually occur between 3-14 days after the tick bite. Treatment usually consists of a round of antibiotics and many people who are infected require hospitalization.
When removing a tick from the body, use tweezers and apply gentle, steady traction. Do not crush the tick’s body when removing it and apply the tweezers as close to the skin as possible to avoid leaving tick mouth parts embedded in the skin. Do not attempt to remove ticks with bare hands. After the tick is removed, disinfect the skin with soap and water.
People need to avoid tick-infested areas, especially during warmer months. Wear light colored clothing so ticks can easily be spotted. Wear long sleeved shirts, a hat, long pants, and tuck pant legs into socks.
Use insect repellents containing DEET on your skin or permethrin on clothing.