What Are the Symptoms and Signs of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?
Patients infected with R. rickettsii usually visit a physician in their first week of illness, following an incubation period of about five to 10 days after a tick bite. The early clinical presentation of Rocky Mountain spotted fever is often nonspecific and may resemble many other infectious and noninfectious diseases. Initial symptoms may include fever, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, lack of appetite, and severe headache. Later signs and symptoms include rash, abdominal pain, joint pain, and diarrhea. Three important components of the clinical presentation are fever, rash, and a previous tick bite, although one or more of these components may not be present when the patient is first seen for medical care. Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be a severe illness, and the majority of patients are hospitalized.