Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (cont.)
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) facts
- What is Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
- Where do most cases of RMSF occur in the U.S.?
- What is the history of Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
- What causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
- What are risk factors for Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
- What are symptoms and signs of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in children and adults?
- How is Rocky Mountain spotted fever diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for Rocky Mountain spotted fever in children and adults?
- What are complications of Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
- What is the prognosis of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in children and adults?
- How can people safely remove a tick?
- Can Rocky Mountain spotted fever be prevented?
- Where can people find more information on Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
- Pictures of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - Slideshow
- Pictures of Strep or Sore Throat - Slideshow
- Pictures of 10 Common Allergy Triggers - Slideshow
What is the treatment for Rocky Mountain spotted fever in children and adults?
RMSF is treated with antibiotics, usually from the tetracycline class. Doxycycline is the most commonly recommended antibiotic for this purpose and is usually taken orally twice a day for seven days. An intravenous form is available for patients who are unable to tolerate the oral form.
Special comment should be made for one population in need of treatment: children. Doxycycline is not used routinely in young children (< 8 years of age) because it might cause staining of teeth, but this almost never occurs with a limited one-week course. Since the risk is minor compared to the potential severity of RMSF, both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend doxycycline for all children with RMSF. Similarly, doxycycline is usually not given to pregnant women because of the potential effect of the drug on fetal bones and teeth. However, the risk must be weighed against the benefit of treatment on an individual basis. If a person cannot take doxycycline, there are other possible choices, including an older agent called chloramphenicol. Chloramphenicol also has toxicities. Use of alternative agents or treatment during pregnancy warrants consultation with a specialist experienced in the area.
What are complications of Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
Complications of RMSF include kidney failure, neurological problems, bleeding, gangrene, and death. Most patients with a diagnosis of RMSF are hospitalized and severe cases require intensive care. Death occurs in approximately 0.5%-5% of treated cases and up to 20% of untreated cases.
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