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Fever, disease commonly caused by ticks on the East Coast

June 12, 2006

Ticks can spread multiple diseases and infections to humans. The most common on the East Coast are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

More about Lyme disease:

  • Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria passed to humans through a tick bite. Not all people exhibit every symptom associated with Lyme disease, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first sign of infection is usually a circular rash that begins at the site of a tick bite three to 30 days after a bite. It is sometimes referred to as a bull's-eye rash, because it is pale in the center with a circular red ring surrounding the bite.

  • Other symptoms include fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches and swollen lymph nodes.

  • If left untreated, Lyme disease spreads throughout the body, creating symptoms like Bell's palsy, severe headaches, meningitis, heart palpitations and dizziness.

  • Lyme disease can be effectively treated if diagnosed before advanced symptoms appear.

  • 1,235 confirmed cases of Lyme disease were reported in Maryland in 2005, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.


More about Rocky Mountain spotted fever:

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  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever also is caused by a bacteria passed to humans through a tick bite. This type of bacteria is passed by hard ticks, a species larger in size, which are found on the East Coast.

  • Initial signs and symptoms of the fever include sudden fever, headache and muscle pain followed by the development of a rash.

  • The spotted fever can range in severity from very mild to fatal, says Dr. Vincent Cantone, internist and pediatrician at Smithsburg Family Medicine Center in Smithsburg. "Typically there is a fever, chills, headache, muscle pains and the fever is usually greater than 102.2 degrees," he says.

  • "The most characteristic feature that we hear about is the rash," Cantone says. "But, oftentimes there is not a rash associated with it. ... It is a scary disease, although it is relatively infrequent in this area."

  • There were 75 confirmed cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Maryland in 2005, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.


? Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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