Dept. of Health reports rise in Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Summer is the primetime for bugs, that includes ticks and the dangers they carry. We're talking about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever -- a potentially fatal disease that's seen an increase in cases in Tennessee. 7-31-14

(WBIR-Knoxville) The Tennessee Department of Health said they're seeing more cases of a potentially deadly tickborne illness, with signs of it locally.

"We have seen a sightly increased incidences of tick-born illnesses in Rocky Mountain spotted fever, however there are natural variations from year-to-year," said Tamara Chavez -Lindell with the East Tennessee Regional Health Office.

As of Thursday, the department reported 328 cases of the illness; six of those cases are in Knox County.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a disease caused by bacteria transferred from tick bites to humans, causing a spotted rash. This disease does not appear immediately following a tickbite, and if not treated, is potentially deadly.

"The initial symptoms are usually fever and a few days after the fever, we'll often see a rash. A very flat, non-itchy rash," Chavez -Lindell added.

The illness is carried in either the Brown Dog or American Dog tick -- which are the most common kinds of ticks in Tennessee. Officials said that's all the more reason to watch out, with some simple advice to keep in mind.

"The best way to remove them is a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick on its head as close to your skin and pull it out -- straight out," Chavez -Lindell said.

The best way to prevent ticks is wear light, long sleeved clothing. Also to wear socks over pant legs, to prevent ticks from climbing up. Officials said legs are the most common spot for ticks.

For more information on Rocky Mountain spotted fever, visit the CDC's website.


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