Recent tick-related deaths raise alarm from health officials
Two deaths from tick-borne Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) have been reported recently, one a 2-year-old girl in Indiana, and the other a 20-year-old woman in Tennessee. In both cases, the patients were initially diagnosed as having the flu.
In the Indiana case, young Kenley Ratliff developed a high fever about 10 days after her family had returned from a camping trip. She tested positive for strep, and antibiotics were administered. But the fever kept rising over the next several days. By the time doctors suspected RMSF and changed to an appropriate medication, it was too late. More details about Kenley’s case here.
Tennessee health officials confirmed this week that Katie Underhill died from RMSF on May 20. News reports say she battled the disease for five weeks, also after initially being treated for the flu. More details here.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii, and is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick.
Medical experts say RMSF can be fatal within the week, if not treated appropriately. The CDC recommends that doctors administer doxycycline immediately if the disease is suspected, and not wait for confirming lab work.
These cases underscore the need for people to become much more tick-aware when spending time outdoors, and for doctors to consider tick-borne illness as a possibility when patients present with flu-like symptoms in spring and summer.
Read more about rickettsial illnesses here.
- June 10, 2017 at 9:52 am
It’s quite disturbing that the overwhelming / indisputable evidence stands firm on this issue yet still ignored by many in the medical industry. The rate of misdiagnosed patients remains high when it should be declining considering the aforementioned.
- June 10, 2017 at 12:10 pm
I am disturbed by the ongoing ridiculous statement that people need to be “tick-aware” when the ticks can be too small to even see unless they are somehow collected and placed on a smooth white paper. How is a person supposed to inspect every single part of their entire body, including all of the cracks and crevices and hair covered areas, to find these almost microscopic bugs? Also, a person can be bitten multiple times by multiple ticks on multiple days. I find this very upsetting.
- June 11, 2017 at 5:05 pm
I have had multiple tick bites over a 20 year period and it took 40 years for my to find out I have Lyme disease. Getting bitten by ticks is NOT to most upsetting thing. THE MOST upsetting thing is how the medical doctors do NOT know how to recognize nor how to treat Lyme disease immediately. It took me 40 years to find a doctors who is Lyme literate! This length of time is most upsetting!
- June 11, 2017 at 10:20 am
Yesterday I was at the walk in clinic to get pain med and crutches for my chronic Lyme. I carefully approached the subject of treatment. The Pa said that he and othets give a 1 pill if attached 72 hours. Hell I does a person know ? So i guess 48 hours = 2 pills. 24 hours = ?.
As far as I know the duration is just a hypothesis anyway. People have gotten Lyme fron just a attached tick only for a very short while. This PA perceived to make the statement of Powassan virus being deadly. I stated to him “how do they know it is a virus, same with zika. He said “they look in the microscope”. I replied. “They can’t even fund lyme under the microscope”. I think it made him rethink his belief!
Of note is that my temp was 96.2 and of course it is normal under the current health system !
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