Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Middle Tennessee

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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is something you don't hear a lot about, but that does not mean it doesn't happen.

After WGNS was told that a recent case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever landed a young lady in the hospital in Murfreesboro, we talked to the Tennessee Department of Health to learn how rare the disease is, which is caused by a tick bite. It is significant to note, the woman hospitalized in Murfreesboro did not receive the tick bite in Rutherford County, but a neighboring county instead.

The most recent data that is available shows that 24 confirmed cases have been reported this year in Tennessee. However, only one case was reported in the Mid Cumberland Region.


The Mid Cumberland Region includes Cheatham, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys, Montgomery, Robertson, Rutherford, Stewart, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson and Wilson Counties.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report:


Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a tickborne disease caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. This organism is a cause of potentially fatal human illness in North and South America, and is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected tick species.

In the United States, these include the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), and brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus).

Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, and muscle pain. A rash may also develop, but is often absent in the first few days, and in some patients, never develops. Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be a severe or even fatal illness if not treated in the first few days of symptoms.

Doxycycline is the first line treatment for adults and children of all ages, and is most effective if started before the fifth day of symptoms. The initial diagnosis is made based on clinical signs and symptoms, and medical history, and can later be confirmed by using specialized laboratory tests. RMSF and other tickborne diseases can be prevented.

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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tick, tick bite
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