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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 2, 2022.

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.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

You may need extra oxygen

if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.


  • A heart monitor is an EKG that stays on all the time to record your heart's electrical activity.
  • Intake and output may be measured. Healthcare providers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask healthcare providers if they need to measure or collect your urine.


  • Antibiotics help treat a bacterial infection.
  • Acetaminophen help decrease fever and pain.
  • Blood pressure medicine may be given to increase your blood pressure.
  • Diuretics help remove extra fluid.


  • IV fluids may be given to prevent dehydration.
  • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator.
  • A Foley catheter is a tube put into your bladder to drain urine into a bag. It will help your healthcare provider monitor your kidney function.


  • Blood tests will check your blood cell levels, liver function, and for signs of infection.
  • A chest x-ray may show fluid or infection in and around your lungs.
  • An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound. Sound waves will be used to show the structure, movement, and blood vessels of your heart.


You may develop kidney failure or breathing problems. Your blood may clot more than it should. This can keep the blood from flowing where it should in your body. RMSF may lead to lung problems, such as fluid buildup or swelling in and around your lungs. The bacteria can spread and infect organs or other parts of your body. RMSF may also cause swelling or damage in your liver, brain, or heart. RMSF may cause you to go into a coma if the infection is severe.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.