10909 Indian Head HighwayFort Washington, MD 20744(301) 292-1150(301) 292-1056
 
What is it?
Infectious disease cause by a bacterium called Rickettsia rickettsii.
 
Who is susceptible to it?
RMSF can affect dogs and humans.
 
How does it spread?
Ticks transmit the organism.   However, the bacteria are not injected into the host animal until the tick has been attached for 10 to 24 hours. 
 
Time line from exposure to signs?
Signs begin within days of infection.
 
What are the symptoms?
Signs of RMSF are similar to those we see with Lyme disease and with Ehrlichiosis.  Signs include fever, depression, lethargy, decreased appetite,, dehydration, lameness secondary to muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, eye/nose discharge, cough, difficulty breathing, and swollen lymph nodes.
 
Is there a test for it?
Yes, Two blood samples are collected (the first collected while the animal is sick and the second collected 3 weeks later) and sent out to the laboratory.
 
How is it treated?
The response to treatment depends on the pet’s general health and resistance to disease.  Some pets will require hospitalization while others will require simple antibiotic therapy.  Treatment requires at least 4 weeks of antibiotic therapy. 
 
Cleaning the environment?
Keep pets away from areas infested with ticks.  Keep the yard free of bushes or places where ticks may like to hide.
 
Is there a vaccine?
No.  Use a tick preventive product like Frontline, Promeris or Advantix.
 
Risk for humans?
Humans can be infected directly by a tick bite.  A person is unlikely to contract the disease from a pet unless he was to remove an unattached tick from the pet and allow the tick to feed on him.
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