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    Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

    Important
    It is possible that the main title of the report Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

    Synonyms

    • Tickborne Typhus Fever
    • RMSF
    • Sao Paulo Typhus

    Disorder Subdivisions

    • Fulminant Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

    General Discussion

    Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is an infectious disease that belongs to a group of diseases known as the spotted fever group rickettsioses. It is caused by infection with the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii (R. rickettsii), which is usually transmitted by a tick bite. When introduced into the body, the bacterium spreads by the bloodstream or lymphatic vessels and multiplies within and damages certain cells lining the inside of small blood (vascular) vessels (i.e., endothelial cells) as well as vascular smooth muscle cells. Such damage leads to inflammatory changes of affected blood vessels (vasculitis), leakage of fluid from the blood vessels, an abnormal accumulation of fluid in body tissues (edema), and additional abnormalities, resulting in the symptoms and findings associated with the disease.

    Approximately two to 14 days after initial infection, early symptoms may include a high fever, severe headaches, muscle pain (myalgia), nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite (anorexia), abdominal pain, and/or features. In addition, in most individuals with RMSF, a distinctive rash develops about three to five days after fever onset. The rash often initially appears on the skin of the wrists and ankles and spreads to involve the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, the forearms, the trunk, the buttocks, and the neck and facial areas. The rash typically initially consists of small, flat pinkish spots (macules) that eventually become raised (papules) and darker. The lesions usually develop "pin-point" reddish spots (petechia) due to localized bleeding (hemorrhaging) and may merge to form larger hemorrhagic patches. In some severe cases, insufficient oxygenated blood supply to certain tissues may lead to areas of tissue loss (necrosis).

    R. rickettsii infection may affect blood vessels, tissues, and organs throughout the body, including the lungs, brain and spinal cord (central nervous system), heart, liver, and kidneys. Associated symptoms and findings may vary, depending upon the specific tissues and organs affected. Without timely, appropriate treatment, individuals with severe disease may develop potentially life-threatening complications due to tissue and organ injury and dysfunction.

    As its name indicates, the disease was originally recognized in the Rocky Mountain states. It has since been reported throughout the continental United States as well as Mexico, Canada, Central America, and South America. As noted above, in most cases, infection with the R. rickettsii bacterium results from tick bites. Several different types of ticks serve as "vectors" for the disease, transmitting the R. rickettsii bacterium to humans.

    Resources

    Lyme Disease Foundation
    P.O. Box 332
    Tolland, CT 06084-0332
    Email: info@lyme.org
    Internet: http://www.lyme.org

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Road NE
    Atlanta, GA 30333
    Tel: (404)639-3534
    Tel: (800)232-4636
    TDD: (888)232-6348
    Email: cdcinfo@cdc.gov
    Internet: http://www.cdc.gov/

    NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
    Office of Communications and Government Relations
    6610 Rockledge Drive, MSC 6612
    Bethesda, MD 20892-6612
    Tel: (301)496-5717
    Fax: (301)402-3573
    Tel: (866)284-4107
    TDD: (800)877-8339
    Email: ocpostoffice@niaid.nih.gov
    Internet: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/

    World Health Organization (WHO)
    Avenue Appia 20
    Geneva 27, 1211
    Switzerland
    Tel: 41227912111
    Fax: 41227913111
    Internet: http://www.who.int/en/

    Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
    PO Box 8126
    Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
    Tel: (301)251-4925
    Fax: (301)251-4911
    Tel: (888)205-2311
    TDD: (888)205-3223
    Internet: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

    For a Complete Report:

    This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

    The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

    It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

    This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

    For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site www.rarediseases.org or email orphan@rarediseases.org

    Last Updated: 4/8/2009
    Copyright 1989, 1998, 2001, 2009 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

    WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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