Local News

Fayetteville Woman Recounts Painful Bout With Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Posted July 6, 2005

— Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is most common in southeastern states like North Carolina. One woman had a close call with the potentially deadly illness.

Bonnie Page does not know how it happened, but she knows a tick bit her around the first of April.

"I can't remember finding a tick ever on me," Page said.

One thing she does remember was the pain.

"Severe muscle and joint pain and in my feet, calf muscles. My elbows were swollen and so tender. I couldn't stand to touch them," she said.

About five weeks and four blood tests later, she learned it was Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

"Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is almost always a severe disease. When you get it, you know it. You get progressively ill over three, four, five days. Untreated, about 20 percent of people will die," said UNC epidemiologist Dr. David Weber.

Only dog ticks can spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Smaller deer ticks can spread Lyme disease, which is found most common in northeastern states. Page gives her dog flea and tick prevention medicine, but that does not protect her.

"Many times, they'll use them just to hitch a ride into our house," Page said.

A strong antibiotic is working for Page. Page feels much better, and she said she will be more careful working around the house.

"I will, for now on, be much more aggressive checking myself," she said.

Ticks must remain attached for several hours before it can transmit disease. To prevent tick bites:

  • Wear white clothing, so you can see ticks crawling on you.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants, tucked into socks.
  • Thoroughly check yourself and your children at least twice a day.
  • If you find an embedded tick, gently lift it out with tweezers.
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