Headache, feeling tired, achy, joint pain, bleeding gums, dizziness, nausea – have you been where ticks live recently? You could have RMSF.

My husband Rick could have died from the lack on awareness in this tick born illness called Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Symptoms are different for everyone.

But for him it started with headache, feeling tired, aches, fever. Then rash.

He went to the doctor twice — and not once did anybody ask him the following:

“Do you work outside?”

“Have you been bitten by a tick lately?”

“Did you pull any ticks off of you lately?”

He is a general contractor, and about a month before the illness hit he was working on taking down a condemned farmhouse that was surrounded by long grass and fields.

His condition got worse as his primary care doctor just could not figure it out.

  • His gums started bleeding.
  • His vision became impaired.
  • He was dizzy and had ringing in his ears.
  • He could hardly walk and spent a few days in bed, unable to move, in agony with joint pain and all-over pain.

Rick started researching, remembered pulling a tick off of his clothing about a month before. He googled.

RMSF! All the symptoms matched.

He managed to get himself back to the doctor for a third visit. He asked the doctor to check him for Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Finally, The doctor ran a tick borne illness panel and he had Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Upon this finding the doctor should have probably put him in the hospital or made sure he had appropriate antibiotics as he left the building.

There should be no delay on antibiotics. But my husband had to wait another day to get the medication needed.

Doxycycline is the usual treatment for this illness. The dosage and length of treatment depends on the doctor and their knowledge of the disease.

Many doctors and nurses have never heard of this rare illness. They don’t know the signs or symptoms to look for or the questions to ask.

RMSF is a reportable illness. This means that the doctor’s office is supposed to report every single case to the CDC for tracking purposes. Because where there is one tick carrying this … there are certainly others.

It is a very dangerous, rare illness that people need to learn about. It can be fatal.

Source: Clevelandclinic.org


Rash from a tick borne disease. Source: CDC

Prevention of RMSF

  1. Wear high white socks and tuck your pants inside your socks if you are hiking. Most ticks jump on low and crawl up and in.
  1. Spray your clothing with tick repellent that contains DEET.
  1. Shake yourself off before you go inside.
  1. Don’t lie in your bed or on your couch after you’ve been outside for a hike or in the woods!
  1. Shower as soon as possible and scrub the areas where ticks go! Armpits, behind knees and elbows, back of ears and private areas.
  1. Do a tick check on yourself.
  1. Ask your partner to check your head and scalp.
  1. Teach your kids how to do a tick check on themselves.
  1. Keep your pets treated with tick repellent.
  1. Don’t let your dogs sleep in your bed or get on the furniture. Ticks can crawl from a treated dog to a human with ease.
Kimberly King is an award-winning author, teacher and authority on the subject of sexual abuse prevention. A survivor of sexual assault and a body safety educator, she is the author of the book, “I Said No! A kid-to-kid guide to keeping private parts private.” @toughtopicsmom


Top image: Freepik.com/erik-karits-2093459