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What symptoms and signs did you experience with Rocky Mountain spotted fever?

Picture of child's hand and wrist with spotted rash of Rocky Mountain spotted fever; Source: CDC    Unfortunately, the early symptoms of RMSF are nonspecific, such as fever (usually greater than 102 F), chills, nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle pain, and fatigue; these symptoms are frequently ignored or attributed to other causes. The rash, abdominal pain, joint pains, and diarrhea usually develop about two to 14 days (incubation period) after an infected tick bite. The rash (red spots) usually begins on the wrists and ankles and spreads to the palms and soles of the feet, but some individuals (about 10%-15%) do not develop it. Other symptoms that may occur are loss of appetite, hallucinations, photosensitivity (sensitivity to light), eye redness, and excessive thirst.Unless the patient tells the doctor a tick bite has happened, the doctor may not realize the patient may have RMSF. Children who get infected tick bites may not communicate this important fact to their parents or doctor; likewise, many adults do not remember or even notice getting a tick bite. The classic symptoms of RMSF are a tick bite followed by fever and a rash. If the patient does not exhibit all three symptoms (tick bite, fever, and rash), the diagnosis frequently either is not correct or is delayed. A delay in diagnosis may allow time for severe symptoms and/or complications to develop. Severe symptoms of RMSF are thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets that can lead to internal bleeding), hyponatremia (low sodium), meningismus (a condition of neck stiffness, headache, and possible fever suggesting brain membrane irritation), confusion, blindness, or coma that can result in poor health or death.
19 Responses
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It was 1967. I was nine years old. First came the body aches, then fever and rash. No one knew what I had. They thought I had measles and I fell into a coma.
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I first thought I had a touch of food poison or maybe coming down with the flu.  Then I started getting weaker, had a hard time just taking the puppy outside.  By the end of the week I had chest pains, my whole body ached, I was so weak my husband had to help me shower.  I thought I had the flu was the reason I didn't go to the ER sooner.  My tick bite happened in mid-May and my symptoms didn't start until mid June.
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Very High Fever 103.9 Chills and high blood pressure, My BP is always arouns 117/72 and it reached 198/98 in the ER. No tick ever found and I had no rash.  Later had the fatigue as others posted. Once on Antibiotics took almost 10 days to cure. Not fun!
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The tick bite was mid-March. I started getting sick mid-April with-body aches, vomiting, and delirium.
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I had what I thought was an infected chigger bite in early July. About a week later I started having body aches followed by fever. On July 17 I went to the VA (Veteran's Affairs), and they drew blood to check for Lyme and RMSF (Rocky Mountain spotted fever). A week later I was feeling better and got the call that both tests came back negative. I was told to do a follow up in a couple of weeks. Today (before my follow up even happened) I got a call from the Department of Public Health concerning my positive test result for RMSF. Apparently my test was read wrong by the VA. I have not been prescribed any medication. I have been having extreme fatigue but thought it was just due to the heat and keeping up with my kids. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get some answers and can begin treatment. I just hope I haven't had any permanent damage due to the delay in treatment.
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I went to the doctor with a blistering rash that looked more like chicken pox than anything. I was tested for both bacteria and viruses and the results just came back with me testing positive for Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I did not have a fever, chills or headaches. I did have some stomach cramps but didn't think anything of it since my guts are always a mess. I am waiting now for one other test. I am just staying with the doxycycline and the cream they prescribed as the rash is definitely in retreat.
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I got a tick off me on a Friday. By, Monday l was swollen in my face and hand and was sick like I had the flu! I tried to work two days, and by the end of my Tuesday shift, my legs and feet were swollen so bad l could barely walk and l felt foggy. I also had huge red rashes under the skin, above each ankle. I went to the emergency room (ER), doctor said he didn't think it was Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but was going to treat me for tick bite. I had IV of strong antibiotics, doxycycline, something other and 20 pills of the same for 10 days. They said in 15 days they'll know my blood test results, and no call is a good thing! I have been so sick, severe joint aches, and weak, tired and just somedays barely go! Twenty three days later came a call from the hospital and they said l was positive for Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Thanks to the medicines, it made it my first and last trip to the ER! The nurse said my veins were extremely small, and asked if l used to abuse steroids! Unimpressed with doctor's concern. If l go to the doctor l am sick, and l was actually afraid to drive, but more afraid of not going!
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I didn't experience a rash or even muscle aches. The only thing I felt was severe headaches that got even worse than migraines. They got so bad that they were debilitating and it hurt to even nod. One night I went to the hospital because it got so bad, and my blood pressure was 170/98 because of the pain. They did a tick panel and found Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
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My first symptom was feeling overwhelmingly tired and heavy in my legs and wanting to rest. By the next morning I was lethargic and thought I had the flu. I called the doctor at 9 am. The nurse said they needed to see me and it was at 4 for the appointment. Within 7 hours I progressed quickly to uncontrollable chills, fever, and weakness. My blood work showed below normal limits for white blood count. I started antibiotics for Rocky Mountain spotted fever. However, for 3 full days I went through extreme fever, chills, sweats and severe body and joint pain. I could not get out of bed. For 2 weeks I was fatigued and weak before I felt ok. I feel that a shot of antibiotics in the beginning would've helped faster than the pills for 10 days. The joint pain was excruciating. I never had a rash.
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I actually had Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) twice. The first time I never knew I had a tick - I was weak, short of breath and tired all the time. I thought my heart issue was getting worse so I went to my cardiologist who didn't find any change in my heart. I finally couldn't take the leg pains, swollen feel and general exhaustion any longer, so went to my primary care physician who saw what bad shape I was in and ran a full range of blood tests. Sure enough, my doctor called all excited and apologized for her excitement but knows what I have; RMSF - 3 weeks on doxycycline! I got bit again and I pulled off the ticks - I knew I had it again and sure enough the symptoms started again 5 days later. I went to the doctor right away to get on doxycycline but still have very swollen legs, tingly hands and stiff neck. I feel like I have some long term damage and will see an infectious disease specialist.
Avatar universal
Excessive thirst, fatigue, nausea, aches and pains in whole body, slight headache and a wicked rash were my symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
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I saw my nurse practitioner in June for regular medical refills, and mentioned to her that I felt flu-like, but had no fever. My chest was very uncomfortable with what I thought could be pleurisy, and my neck was sore and stiff, and I have GAD (generalized anxietyÊdisorder) so I thought maybe I was uptight. I also had bloodshot eyes which I blamed on allergy. She said, if I was still feeling off when I visited in August, she would do bloodwork to rule out autoimmune disorders as I have psoriasis. I took doxycycline for 30 days for Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
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I started with extreme fatigue and pain under the left armpit. I ended up in the emergency room (ER) after extreme fatigue set in. They caught it because I had mentioned that I had tick bites. ER doctor ran tests and sure enough, Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I completed 2 weeks of doxycycline. I still feel weak though and very run down. Now I am seeing a cardiologist just for insurance sake.
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My husband had a huge rash all over his body. We first thought it was chiggers. Then poison ivy. We went 3 days in a row to walk-in care with swollen feet and hands. Finally 1 doctor said Rocky Mountain spotted fever. But the test came back negative, but he said don't be surprised. Treated him with doxycycline for 10 days. My husband has been having really sore muscles and being a dairy farmer is a bad thing. It is so bad he is planning to sell his cows.
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I was 4 when I got bitten by ticks. I had high fever for 3 days before diagnose with Rocky Mountain spotted fever by the doctor, then another 3 before Greyhound bus brought medicines. By then I had lock jaw, and most of my body was a rash. Long term I have had lots of pain. Wish someone could help me!
Avatar universal
My daughter and I both had Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). I found the tick on my daughter and pulled it off 2 weeks prior to my symptoms. I started feeling nauseous, weak and faint with bad headache. I have experienced lots of symptoms such as rapid heart rate, heavy limbs, extreme fatigue, exhaustion, abdominal pain and loss of appetite. Seems like symptoms come and go. And seem worse if I ever get hot. As for my 6 year old daughter she complained of bad headache, sensitivity to light or sound, and vomiting.
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I pulled 5 ticks off me, and two weeks later my muscles began hurting really bad, I became nauseated, and started vomiting. I had zero energy level, and very sick. Tested and found positive for Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). I took two rounds of doxycycline with no improvement, and same symptoms are present at the four month mark. Pain level is through the roof. Two toes on my right foot are going numb. Pain tolerance level has arrived. Considering putting myself down instead of suffering this bad. Today is 31 October, 2019.
Avatar universal
I was just diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) after having it for goodness knows how long. I've been exhausted, riddled with migraines, brain foggy, lethargic, gained weight and haven't been able to lose it, water retention, nauseous upon waking, dizzy and lightheaded to the point of near syncope, irritable, and hopeless. I never had a rash but have been in the emergency room several times this past year because I just didn't feel well, and was told I had a virus. Got diagnosed with RMSF last week, and now taking doxycycline for two weeks.
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I have tested positive for Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) four times. Each time I was treated with doxycycline. After the first time, I was retested and came back negative. One year later it came back. No more tick bites. I'm struggling with it right now.
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