While people in the East and South have to worry about getting Lyme Disease from tick bites, there are other diseases that ticks can transmit. One that occasionally shows up in all mainland US states is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which is transmitted by tick bites from the American Dog Tick (East of the rockies and West coast), Brown Dog Tick (all continental), and the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick (West).
While dogs are the primary hosts for the Dog Ticks, tick bites are regularly responsible for transmitting diseases and parasites to humans. While each year there may be only a few handfuls in each state, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever symptoms are caused by a fast acting bacteria, and long-term side-effects or even death can result without taking action at the first sign of symptoms.
Since labs can’t diagnose Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever quickly enough, treatment generally begins before diagnosis with confirmation (and elimination of other possibilities, like parasites) later. Since Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever symptoms are similar to many diseases, it’s important to know the risk and symptoms to help guide health care professionals to the risk.
Not all ticks bites cause a rash, so checking skin after working in the garden or going on a hike is imperative (especially for dogs who can also get Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever symptoms and can be a host for ticks in your home). Remove ticks by gripping them as close to the skin as possible, and watch for any abnormal symptoms for the next week or two.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Symptoms (from the CDC):
- Abdominal Pain
- Muscle Pain
Does your local news spread the word on tick bites each year, and the possibility of disease transmission? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll follow up with more information next week!