A 6-year-old North Carolina girl has died from Rocky Mountain spotted fever after being bit by a tick while visiting family in Texas.
The American dog tick or wood tick is the most common source of R. rickettsii, the bacterium behind Rocky Mountain spotted fever, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The infection is rare in Texas, affecting one in 1 million people, according to 2010 CDC data, whereas North Carolina has one of the highest rates in the country, with up to 63 cases per 1 million people.
Symptoms of the infection include fever, headache, vomiting, abdominal and muscle pain, and sometimes a rash, according to the CDC.
“Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be severe or even fatal if not treated in the first few days of symptoms,” the agency says on its website. “Patients who are treated early may recover quickly on outpatient medication, while those who experience a more severe course may require intravenous antibiotics, prolonged hospitalization or intensive care.”
The infection can be prevented by avoiding contact with ticks or quickly removing them from the body as soon as possible, according to the CDC.