August 21, 2008
State public health director warns of increased reports of Rocky Mountain spotted fever after a recent death
Director implores the public to heed the warning and use preventive measures against tick-borne illnesses
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director, stresses the importance of preventive measure to protect against tick bites as reports of Rocky Mountain spotted fever increase. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recently received a report of a southern Illinois resident who died after being diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
“We have detected an increase in the number of cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, primarily in southern Illinois. Ticks can carry a number of diseases, but by taking a few precautions, like wearing insect repellent and performing tick checks, you can greatly reduce your risk of contracting tick-borne diseases, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever,” said Dr. Arnold.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by bacteria that are spread to humans through the bite of an infected tick. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is not transmitted person-to-person.
Initial signs and symptoms of the disease include sudden onset of high fever, severe headache, and deep muscle pain, followed by the development of a rash, although not every case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever will have the rash. If the rash does appear, it begins on the legs or arms, may include the soles of the feet or palms of the hands and may spread rapidly to the trunk or the rest of the body. Without prompt and appropriate treatment the disease can be fatal. Antibiotics are used to treat Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Symptoms usually appear between three and 14 days after the bite of an infected tick.
Persons spending time outdoors in areas where ticks are commonly found — wooded areas, tall grass and brush — should take precautions against all tick-borne diseases:
The best way to remove a tick is to grasp it with fine-point tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently, but firmly, pull it straight out. Do not twist or jerk the tick. Be sure to wash the bite area and your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and apply an antiseptic to the bite site.
For more information on Rocky Mountain spotted fever, log onto www.idph.state.il.us.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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