Ticks carrying the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii as the cause of Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) in Mexico are moving into the United States. RMSF is found throughout the contiguous United States, but over 60% of cases occur in Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
RMSF is characterized by fever, headache, rash, and other symptoms. When not treated early, it can lead to severe complications, even death. The main carrier of the bacteria is the brown dog tick, that can live entirely indoors, allowing it to quickly infest a house or kennel. This ability can increase the spread of the disease. In prevention necessary are programs to control the dog populations, treating houses for ticks, and using long-acting tick collars on dogs. Protecting yourself from RMSF is the same as for other tick-borne diseases — prevent tick bites and get early treatment if you’re bitten and develop symptoms.