My Dog's Bout with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

What You Need to Know About Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Not many people or pets come down with Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but it does happen more frequently than many believe. If you or your pet do contract the illness, you need to know what to expect and how the disease should be treated.

What is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a disease that is usually transmitted by a tick bite. It's not as common as lime disease (another tick-born illness), but it is thought to be much more severe.

Even though the disease is named after the Rocky Mountains, infected ticks can be found throughout the United States, although no cases have ever been reported in Maine.

Initially Rocky Mountain spotted fever was only thought to occur in humans, but in the 1970s cases of canine infection were reported. When my dog suddenly fell ill last week, the blood tests showed that Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever was the culprit. This had me thinking that my kids and I should be tested too.

Is it Contagious?

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is not contagious, but if the same infected tick bites more than one person, it is possible for multiple people to be infected with the disease. Symptoms of the disease include a rash, muscle aches, sore joints and a high fever.

If your pet has come down with Rocky Mountain spotted fever, there is no need to panic, but you do need to be on the lookout for these other signs and symptoms.

The Prognosis

So what becomes of the pets and people who do come down with the disease? Fortunately it's highly treatable in both humans and pets. My vet put our dog on doxycycline, a drug that was actually quite affordable. Within a few days we noticed an improvement in his health.

In a perfect world neither people nor pets would come down with this illness, but we don't live in a perfect world. We have to settle for doing our best to prevent tick bites on ourselves and our pets -- and when all else fails, prompt medical attention is critical if illnesses such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever strike.

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