Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: A Life-Threatening Disease – Infections Example

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"Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: A Life-Threatening Disease"  is a delightful example of a paper on infections. Modern research has proven the effectiveness of immunization to eliminate the terror brought by many life-threatening diseases. However, there are still some diseases that remain to threaten human lives due to uncontrollable bacteria. Among these diseases as Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), a disease caused by rickettsia rickettsii. To date, RMSF continues to be a problem unresolved. This paper provides information on RMSF, including its signs and symptoms, prevalence, prevention, and treatment. Target Audience Detection of RMSF dates back to as early as the 1890s in Idaho and Montana (Woods, n.d. ).

However, reports recognize the prevalence of the disease in 46 states in the U. S (ibid. ). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cited in McMillan, Feigin, DeAngelis & Douglas, 2006), reports more than 2,300 cases of RMSF from 1993 to 1996 alone. Consequently, from 1996 to 2000, approximately 27,000 cases were recorded, and a great number of these were from Southeastern and Midwestern states including North Carolina, Arkansas, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee and Oklahoma (Masters, Olson, Weiner & Paddock, 2003).

These accounts make RMSF the most prevalent and life-threatening tick-borne disease in the U. S. Microbe Information According to Walker, Alcamo & Heymann (2008), RMSF is caused by rickettsia rickettsii, a kind of bacteria that lives and multiplies in a living cell. R rickettsii needs to invade eukaryotic cells in order to survive and multiply (Woods, n.d. ). The microbes are pleomorphic but are usually smaller than other bacteria with its circular bacterial chromosome approximately 1.25 Mb. The cells of R rickettsii are typically 0.3– 0.5 × 0.8– 2.0  μ m in size and are stain weakly gram-negative (ibid. ).

The bacteria cannot encode proteins, which are needed for carbohydrate metabolism or synthesis of lipids and nucleic acids. Therefore, it relies on its host for multiple substrates (ibid. ). Hard ticks such as those found in dogs usually spread the R rickettsii which causes RMSF. Wood ticks and Lone star ticks are also potential carriers. When R rickettsii inhabits the body of a living organism, it splits and multiplies as complete organisms, making it easy to infect and weaken the organism it inhabits. Ticks can live up to five years in practically any given environment.

According to Thorner, Walker & Petri (1998) ticks can survive cold or desiccated environments and live out starvation. They enter the skin through emphatics and blood vessels where they multiply, ensuing vascular injuries.     Victims The CDC website, in its article titled, “ Statistics and Epidemiology” reports the average annual incidence of RMSF by age group from 2000-2010. Based on this, usual victims are adults ranging from 55 through 64 years old. Children as early as infants were also infected but those ranging from 5 through 9 years old appear to have the highest incidence. Societal and Economic Factors   People with frequent exposure to animals, especially dogs have higher risks of RMSF.

Additionally, those who live near wooded areas or those who are surrounded by plants, trees, and grasses are also at increased risk of RMSF infection. Moreover, those people with limited or no access to healthcare services are more at risk of RMSF. Economic factors may play a role in the acquisition and spread of the disease. Immune Response According to McMillan, Feigin, DeAngelis & Douglas (2006), usual symptoms of RMSF include fever, rashes, nausea, headache, abdominal pain, muscle pain and lack of appetite.

When a patient is bitten by a tick, it may take two to fourteen days before the onset of fever; then, the body temperature escalates abruptly to 40˚C. Worse conditions may lead to heart failure and shock, kidney failure, pneumonia, loss of sodium in the urine, the shift of water from intracellular to extracellular, brain damage and injuries to the cells (McMillan, Feigin, DeAngelis & Douglas (2006). Five Interesting Facts Although R rickettssii was first observed in Idaho in 1896 by Marshall Wood, R ricketssii got its name from Howard Taylor Ricketts, a doctor from Chicago who took courageous efforts in studying the bacteria after it attacked his hometown in 1906 (Thorner, Walker & Petri, 1998). The presence of the rashes confirms physical observation and patient history.

The usual procedure to detect RMSF is to find out the patient’ s history and to check for signs and symptoms. However, the symptoms of RMSF can be confused with other deadly diseases such as meningococcemia and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (Thorner, Walker & Petri, 1998). In Regan et al.

(2015), multiple factors including alcoholism and chronic lung disease showed delay response to treatment and led patients to worse cell damage scenarios. Several attempts have been made to produce a rickettsiae vaccine. However, the process was too harmful as it claimed the lives of some workers who had the courage to help prepare the vaccine (Walker, Alcamo & Heymann (2008). Even though some experiments successfully protected vaccinated individuals from rickettsii, most of them made the people ill (ibid. ). To date, researchers are still conducting studies to make the vaccine safe and reliable. Prevention of tick-borne RMSF basically includes keeping a clean, tick-free environment, wearing tight-fitting clothes, using repellants with DEET for adults and children two years and above.

Hikers who came from the woods should check their things and pets for ticks and other living organisms.  


Masters, E., Olson, G., Weiner, S. & Paddock, C. (2003) Rocky mountain spotted fever: a clinician’s dilemma. Arch Internal Medicine 163(7), 769-774.

McMillan, J., Feigin, R., DeAngelis, C. & Douglas, M. (2006). Oski’s pediatrics. PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Regan, J., Traeger, M., Humphreys, D. et al. (2015). Risk factors for fatal outcome from rocky mountain spotted fever in a highly endemic area: Arizona, 2002-2011. Retrieved June 24, 2015, from

Rock Mountain spotted fever. (n.d.). Retrieved June 25, 2015, from

Statistics and epidemiology. (2013). Retrieved June 27, 2015, from

Thorner, A., Walker, D. & Petri, W. (1998). Rocky mountain spotted fever. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 27: 1353–60.

Walker, D., Alcamo, E. & Heymann, D. (2008). Rocky mountain spotted fever. NY: Infobase Publishing.

Woods, C. (n.d.). Rocky mountain spotted fever in children. Retrieved June 24, 2015, from

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