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Published On: Sat, Aug 17th, 2013

Health officials in S. Illinois see a repeat in last year’s numbers of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever cases

In 2012, Illinois reported 151 confirmed cases of the rickettsial disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), up 100 cases from the previous year.

Now health officials in the state suspect that 2013 will be a repeat of last year.

According to a WSIL-TV report, ticks in the southern parts of Illinois can be active year-round, but especially during the warm months between April and September.

Southern Illinois counties are racking up cases with Jackson County having the most with nine cases.  Behind Jackson County is Hardin County with six cases. Saline and Williamson Counties both had three cases. White, Hamilton, Massac, Union, Washington and Wayne Counties have also had confirmed cases, the report notes.

Elsewhere, earlier this summer, North Carolina health officials confirmed the death of a Buncombe County child from RMSF.

RMSF is a tick borne disease caused by the organism, Rickettsia rickettsii. Typically, the progress of the disease is a sudden onset of high fever, deep muscle pain, severe headache and chills.

A rash usually appears on the extremities within 5 days then soon spreads to palms and soles and then rapidly to the trunk.

Fatalities can be seen in greater than 20% of untreated cases. Death is uncommon with prompt recognition and treatment. Still approximately 3-5% of cases seen in the U.S. are fatal.

The absence or delayed appearance of the typical rash or the failure to recognize it, especially in dark-skinned people cause a delay in diagnosis and increased fatalities.

Amblyomma cajennense. Image/CDC

Amblyomma cajennense.
Image/CDC

Early stages of RMSF can be confused with erlichiosis, meningococcal meningitis and enteroviral infection.

This infection is seen in the U.S. primarily April through September, mostly in the southeast and south central. In recent years, the most cases have been seen in Oklahoma and North Carolina. Few cases are actually seen in the Rocky Mountain region.

Outside the U.S., cases have been reported in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama.

The organism is maintained in nature in ticks. It can be transmitted to dogs and other mammals, but most times these cases cause little illness.

People usually get infected from an infected tick bite. The tick requires from several hours to 24 hours of attachment and feeding to become infectious to people. Prompt removal of the tick can prevent infection. It is not transmitted person to person.

RMSF can be diagnosed in the laboratory using serological techniques, PCR or culture; however, because of the necessity of prompt treatment, diagnosis is based on symptoms.

There is no vaccine available for RMSF. It can be treated with antibiotics either orally or intravenously.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Tick-borne diseases: Beware – London Madison Press says:

    […] his death on May 20 of this year. That infection was caused by a tick carrying the bacteria …Health officials in S. Illinois see a repeat in last year’s numbers of Rocky …The Global […]

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