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Diseases reference index «Colorado tick fever»

Colorado tick feverColorado tick feverColorado tick fever

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

Causes

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:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Generalized weakness
  • Headache
  • Joint stiffness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Occasional rash (may be light-colored)
  • Sensitivity to light ( photophobia)
  • Severe muscle aches

Exams and Tests

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

  • Complement fixation to Colorado tick virus
  • Immunofluorescence for Colorado tick fever -- will be positive if the person has the disease

Other blood tests may include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) -- will show a lower-than-normal number of white blood cells and may show lower-than-normal platelets
  • Creatine phosphokinase
  • Liver function tests

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.

Outlook (Prognosis)

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

Possible Complications

There is a risk for aseptic meningitis, encephalitis, and hemorrhagic fever, but these complications are extremely rare.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

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.

Alternative Names

Mountain tick fever; Mountain fever; American mountain fever