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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever


Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected tick. It occurs most often between April and September, when ticks are most active. RMSF can become life-threatening without treatment.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You have chest pain, trouble breathing, or a fast or pounding heartbeat.
  • You cannot be woken.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have a severe headache.
  • You have a swollen, hard, or tender abdomen.
  • You have swelling in your hands or legs.
  • You have trouble urinating, or you cannot urinate at all.
  • You are confused.
  • Your fever and pain do not go away in 24 hours, even after treatment.
  • You bleed from your nose or gums.
  • Your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your rash starts to turn black.
  • You bruise without injury.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics help treat a bacterial infection.
  • Acetaminophen help decrease fever and pain. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider within 2 days:

You will need close follow-up until your symptoms improve. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Rest until you start to feel better. Return to your daily activities as directed.
  • Drink plenty of liquids as directed. Liquids will prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.

For more information:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta , GA 30333
    Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
    Web Address:

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.