Tickborne Disease Causes Multiple Deaths in California

(ReliableNews.org) – Ticks are tiny insects that primarily live in wooded or grassy areas. They can sometimes carry infections that cause serious illnesses, even death. That’s what health officials believe is happening in the West.

On December 8, the CDC issued a health alert about an outbreak of Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). The national health agency said the infections have been found in people who have recently traveled to or live in the city of Tecate, in Baja California, Mexico.

As of the date of the announcement, the California Department of Public Health said it diagnosed five patients with RMSF since late July. All of the patients had either traveled to or lived in Tecate within two weeks of feeling sick. Four of them were minors, and all five were admitted to hospitals. Three of the patients died.

The CDC stated that doctors should consider RMSF when diagnosing patients who have traveled to Tecate or other areas in northern Mexico, including Coahuila, Sonora, and other places. If laboratory tests confirm the patients have the tick-borne illness, it’s important to treat with doxycycline early because when it’s early, it saves lives.

RMSF is transmitted by the brown dog tick in the regions in question. Symptoms of the disease include

  • headache
  • fever
  • vomiting/nausea
  • stomach pain
  • rash
  • lack of appetite
  • muscle pain

The rash associated with the illness usually develops two to four days after the fever begins. The way the rash looks can vary widely, but nearly all patients get it. The disease could lead to amputations, paralysis, hearing loss, or mental disorders.

The CDC recommends that people contact a doctor if they have become ill after a visit to the woods, areas with high brush, the regions in northern Mexico, or after being bitten by a tick. Again, early treatment could mean the difference between life and death.

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