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Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Updated: 2023-07-26

A serious infection caused by bacteria from a tick bite.


Rocky Mountain spotted fever is an infection from a tick bite and can be serious. In rare cases, it can lead to death. Despite the name, people can get the infection across the United States, in other parts of North America and South America. Spring and summer are the most likely times to get the infection.


Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause symptoms from 3 to 12 days after a tick bite. Symptoms include a severe headache and high fever. Most people also develop a rash a few days after symptoms start. The rash first shows up on wrists, arms and ankles then may spread. Other symptoms are swelling around the eyes and swelling on the backs of the hands.


Antibiotic medicine is used to treat Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Treatment should start within five days of symptoms for best results.