Reference Index - Disease & Conditions

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Deer ticks
Deer ticks


Ticks
Ticks


Tick imbedded in the skin
Tick imbedded in the skin


Antibodies
Antibodies


Colorado tick fever

Definition:

Colorado tick fever is an acute viral infection spread by the bite of the Dermacentor andersoni wood tick.



Alternative Names:

Mountain tick fever; Mountain fever; American mountain fever



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

This disease is usually seen between March and September. Most cases occur in April, May, and June.

Risk factors are recent outdoor activity and recent tick bite .

Colorado tick fever is seen most often in Colorado. Up to 15% of campers have been exposed to the virus that causes the disease. The disease is much less common in the rest of the United States.



Symptoms:

Symptoms of Colorado tick fever start 3 to 6 days after getting the tick bite. A sudden fever continues for 3 days, goes away, then comes back 1 to 3 days later for another few days. Other symptoms include:

  • Generalized weakness
  • Headache behind the eyes
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash (may be light-colored)
  • Sensitivity to light ( photophobia )
  • Skin pain
  • Sweating


Signs and tests:

Tests are done to confirm the infection. These may include:

  • Complement fixation antibody test
  • Immunofluorescence antibody test

Other blood tests may include:



Treatment:

Make sure the tick is fully removed from the skin. Take a pain reliever if necessary (do not give aspirin to children -- it is associated with Reye syndrome in some viral illnesses). If complications develop, treatment will be aimed at controlling the symptoms.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

Colorado tick fever usually goes away by itself and is not dangerous.



Complications:

Complications include aseptic meningitis , encephalitis , and hemorrhagic fever.



Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if you are unable to fully remove a tick embedded in the skin, if you or your child develop symptoms of this disease, if symptoms worsen or do not improve with treatment, or if new symptoms develop.



Prevention:

When walking or hiking in tick-infested areas, wear closed shoes, long sleeves, and tuck long pants into socks to protect the legs. Wear light-colored clothing, which shows ticks more easily than darker colors, making them easier to remove.

Check yourself and your pets frequently. If you find ticks, remove them immediately by using a tweezers, pulling carefully and steadily. Insect repellent may be helpful.



References:

Naides SJ. Arthropod-borne viruses causing fever and rash syndromes. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 405.




Review Date: 9/15/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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