JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever has led to a rare complication in an Oklahoma woman after it went undiagnosed for several days. (See Story) The disease is transmitted by ticks that can carry the bacteria.
That might be worrisome to Mississippians who know that ticks are common here, but those complications can be easily avoided.
Jo Rogers was bitten by a tick while on a holiday vacation July 4 at Grand Lake, OK. Diagnosis of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever caused by the bite was delayed several days, causing a condition that resulted in amputations to both arms and both legs.
"It can cause an inflammation of blood vessels that can cause a disruption in flow to the arms and legs," said Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Skip Nolan at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
He has only seen one case like this in his 25 years treating infectious diseases at UMMC.
"Those are the really extreme cases," he said.
Dr. Nolan said not all ticks carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. However, when it does occur in people, it is easily diagnosed and treated with the antibiotic, doxycycline.
"Most people are dramatically better in 24 hours, and most people are well within 72," said Nolan.
If you are in tick-prone areas, Dr. Nolan said check for ticks, especially on the hair line and on the scalp.
"If you are bitten by a tick and three, seven, 10 days later, you start getting a fever, then that is a good time to go to the doctor and say, I have been bitten by a tick. Now, I have fever," said Dr. Nolan.
In addition to fever, other early symptoms include rash, headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle pain.
If you need to remove a tick, Dr. Nolan said cover your hands to protect them from bacteria.
"The best thing you can do is grab the tick down by its head where it's embedded in the skin, as close as you can, and gently pull it out to try to get the entire head out," said the doctor.
Dr. Nolan added burning the tail-end of a tick with fire from a match is not a useful technique.
Repellent containing deet can also help protect from tick bites.