Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is a tickborne disease caused by Rickettsia rickettsii, an obligate intracellular parasite. The ticks that carry this parasite are Dermacentor variabilis and D. andersoni (American Dog Tick and the Wood Tick), and rarely Amblyomma americanum (Lone Star Tick) and Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Brown Dog Tick). This disease has been documented throughout the United States, but five states account for over 60% of the cases: North Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri. The Center for Disease Control provides this map showing the disease incidence in the United States.

Ticks need to feed for a minimum of 5 to 20 hours to transmit the parasite, therefore tick prevention and removal is important in preventing this disease.

Dogs become ill within days of infection. As the parasite enters the blood stream it causes damage to blood vessels, leading to bleeding. Clinical symptoms can be severe, and range from bruises, nosebleeds, swelling, coughing, limping and seizures.

A diagnosis can be made using several available blood tests and treatment consists of antibiotics (usually Doxycycline) and supportive measures (blood transfusions, vascular support).

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