Tick Bite Fever caused by Rickettsia Rickettsii

By | June 10, 2022

Tick ​​bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii occurs mainly in North and South America, but in all countries of the double continent. This is why the terms American tick bite fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colombian tobias fever, Sao Paulo fever or New World fever are also found.

What is tick bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii?

Ticks are a type of mite that, as blood-sucking parasites, can transmit dangerous germs to all vertebrates. Rickettsia is a tick-borne bacteria named for Howard Taylor Ricketts, an American pathologist who identified the species in 1907. For meanings of humeral head fracture, please visit polyhobbies.com.

Tick ​​bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii belongs to the group of rickettsioses, which includes all diseases caused by Rickettsia bacteria. Rickettsia is not only transmitted by ticks, but also by other species of mites, as well as by lice and fleas. In addition to tick bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii, rickettsioses also include typhus.

The diseases usually appear in the spring and summer months. About 2 people per million in the United States are infected each year. Most of those infected live in rural areas. Tick ​​bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii affects men over the age of 40 and children up to the age of 10 more often than average.


Tick ​​bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii is caused by an infection with a special type of Rickettsia bacteria. The bacteria can only survive inside a host cell. They are mainly found in the intestinal cells, e.g. B. from ticks.

In dry conditions or when disinfectants are used, the bacteria die quickly. Rickettsia do not survive even in artificially produced nutrient solutions. However, rickettsia in excretions z. B. of lice outlast a longer time and therefore still act infectious after months.

Once the bacteria have entered the human body through a tick bite, they multiply in the host cells by continuous transverse division. They then spread through the lymphatic vessels and blood vessels within the body.

The symptoms of tick bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii are triggered by the destruction of body cells caused by the bacteria.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Tick ​​bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii is a very serious disease that can only be completely cured with prompt medical attention. The disease, which only occurs in America, can be life-threatening, especially in children under the age of ten, in people with a weakened immune system or if treatment is delayed.

First, after an incubation period of two to fourteen days, unspecific flu-like symptoms appear. The patient complains of headaches, high fever, body aches, stomach aches , nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, reddened eyes and muscle aches. After another two to five days, a widespread skin rash appears.

This exanthema is characterized by small red spots alternating with raised papules. Small hemorrhages are possible from the papules. Otherwise, the rash is not associated with any discomfort. However, as the disease progresses, a variety of complications can occur that are not the same for everyone. The combination of symptoms that occurs is therefore not foreseeable for the individual.

However, such symptoms as a sudden sharp drop in blood pressure, tachycardia, blood coagulation disorders, jaundice (icterus), acute kidney failure, shock or neurological disorders are observed. Acute kidney failure, a sudden drop in blood pressure or cardiac arrhythmia can quickly lead to death. In other cases, serious long-term damage occurs, which manifests itself in the death of fingers and toes, signs of paralysis, deafness or blindness, among other things.

Diagnosis & History

It is true that an infection with tick-bite fever by Rickettsia rickettsii can hardly be diagnosed in the early phase of the disease, since suitable test methods are not available for this initial period.

Nevertheless, the disease must be treated as early as possible. The first indications of a possible tick bite can be found by asking the sick person about their living environment, their travel habits and the seasonal onset of their symptoms. Only at a later point in time can a reliable diagnosis of the presence of tick bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii be made by examining the skin tissue or blood tests as well as by targeted propagation of Rickettsia in blood cultures.

Tick ​​bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii is a serious, albeit curable, disease. Without treatment, the disease is fatal in about 30% of cases. However, if the affected person survives the first few days of illness, a complete recovery usually takes place.

Tick ​​bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii is more severe in children up to the age of 3 years and in men in general. In these cases, complications such as significant circulatory disorders or kidney failure can quickly lead to death. Possible late effects of tick bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii are symptoms of paralysis or a loss of hearing.


Tick ​​bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii is an often very severe disease, which, however, has good chances of recovery if treated in good time. The infection then usually heals completely. However, the course of the infection and possible complications depend on the time at which treatment begins and on the constitution of the people affected.

Children under the age of ten and people with a weakened immune system in particular often suffer from serious complications that can be fatal or lead to chronic long-term damage. The start of treatment is also decisive for the chances of recovery. If therapy is started too late, around five days after the onset of infection, fatal complications can also occur in previously healthy people.

However, if treatment begins immediately, almost all sufferers survive. In the acute phase without timely therapy, circulatory shock, tachycardia and kidney failure can occur. Then death often occurs within a very short time. In a few cases, long-term consequences such as paralysis, deafness, blindness or tissue necrosis in fingers and toes can occur.

However, this usually only affects people with a weakened immune system, children under the age of ten, alcohol dependents or people with a deficiency in the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. However, patients who survive the severe complications in the acute phase of the infection can also suffer from chronic heart or kidney diseases as long-term consequences.

When should you go to the doctor?

A tick bite does not always require a doctor. If the affected person feels able to completely remove the tick from the organism, he can heal himself with just a few simple steps. If there are no symptoms within the next few days, no further measures need to be taken. Tick ​​bite fever occurs in the Americas. If health problems occur immediately after the tick bite, there is a need for action.

A doctor should be consulted if symptoms such as headache, vomiting, nausea, body aches or abdominal pain occur. If there is a loss of appetite or if there are irregularities in the muscular system, a doctor’s visit is necessary. Medical care must be initiated immediately in the event of changes in the complexion, cardiac arrhythmias, signs of paralysis and high fever. In acute cases, an emergency service should be alerted.

If there are sensory disturbances or if physical performance decreases, the person concerned needs medical help. Numbness in fingers or toes is characteristic of the condition. A doctor should therefore be consulted at the first sign of the above-mentioned health problems. Since the disease can lead to serious complications if left untreated, action must be taken as quickly as possible in the event of a general deterioration in health.

Treatment & Therapy

Of particular importance is the earliest possible treatment of tick bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii. If the therapy does not start by the fifth day after the onset of the disease, an unfavorable course of the disease is prognosticated.

If tick bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii is suspected, treatment should be carried out in a hospital if possible. In most cases, antibiotics can cure the disease. Antibiotics suitable for the treatment of tick bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii are the so-called tetracyclines, which lead to an inhibition of protein production and the growth of the rickettsia. However, tetracyclines should not be given to pregnant women or children, since the active ingredient is deposited in bones and teeth and can lead to increased susceptibility to tooth decay and an increased frequency of bone fractures.

Another very effective antibiotic is chloramphenicol. This is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that, due to possible side effects, should only be used if the tick bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii cannot be controlled in any other way. Both preparations are fed into the body intravenously.

In addition to the pure antibiotic treatment, which is aimed directly at the Rickettsia bacteria, concomitant therapies may be required to alleviate the symptoms of tick-bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii. It may be advisable to administer painkillers. Some patients need an IV to provide fluid to the sufferer from Rickettsia rickettsii tick bite fever.


There are no generally available vaccines against tick-bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii. The only possible prevention is to avoid tick bites.

Anyone staying in the North and South American risk areas should regularly check their body for ticks. Clothing should cover most of the body outdoors. This includes wearing long trousers, long-sleeved upper body clothing and a hat. This at least makes it more difficult for ticks to settle in and to become infected with tick bite fever by Rickettsia rickettsii.


If tick bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii is detected early and has healed completely, tick bite fever usually does not cause any complications. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, regular follow-up examinations should take place in the initial period after the illness, during which the blood is checked for Rickettsia rickettsii. If pathogens are found again, antibiotic therapy must be repeated.

After successful treatment of tick bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii, alcohol consumption should also be avoided completely for two to four weeks, as this often causes complications and long-term effects in people suffering from tick bite fever. In addition, regular neurological follow-up examinations should take place, since tick bite fever caused by Rickettsia rickettsii can in some cases cause long-term neurological disorders.

If symptoms of paralysis, numbness or tingling in the body or extremities occur in the course of life without a cause being able to be identified, a doctor should be consulted immediately and informed about it. In this case, a neurological diagnosis and treatment must be carried out, as these can not only be late symptoms of tick bite fever, but also symptoms of a stroke.

If the tick bite fever causes paralysis or numbness, these must be treated with medication (pain therapy) and physiotherapy. Appropriate therapy must be discussed intensively with the attending neurologist and monitored by him.

You can do that yourself

If a tick bites, the affected person should be able to assess their own skills well. If he does not have sufficient knowledge of how to remove a tick correctly, the help of people from the social environment or medical professionals should always be used.

Regardless of whether the tick bite occurs in native regions or while traveling in American areas, the procedure for removing the insect bite is the same. During the entire process, it is important to have a steady hand and not to make any hectic movements. If, despite all efforts and a professional approach, complications arise when you remove the insect yourself, you should see a doctor immediately. If residues of the insect body can be seen or felt in the organism, medical help is required.

The affected person should not expose themselves to physical exertion and should keep a close eye on their further health development and their own well-being. Sufficient liquid should be taken in and the existing wound should be treated in a sterile manner. Rest and protection are particularly important for the regeneration process.

However, the possibilities of self-help reach their limits as soon as their health deteriorates. General functional disorders, pain or fever can no longer be adequately treated on their own.

Tick Bite Fever caused by Rickettsia Rickettsii