St. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – Tick season officially starts this month and runs through September. But already, there are two probably cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Saint Louis County.
However narrowing down the exact location in Saint Louis County where the two people contracted the tick borne illness is not so easy.
The Saint Louis County Health Department has no record of two cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. However, Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services does. Gena Terlizzi with the county health department said narrowing it down to a neighborhood in Saint Louis County would violate privacy laws.
The Centers for Disease Control reports Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a tick-borne 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, Rocky Mountain wood tick, and brown dog tick.
And if you think these are diseases you get from the wilderness…..think again, ticks are everywhere, thanks in part to the large deer populations in the suburbs.
The CDC reports 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 tick-borne diseases can be prevented.