The Rocky Mountains are the source of the Snake River, a beautiful feature of the Pacific Northwest. In 1896, the Rocky Mountains were also identified as the source of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, yet another disease transmitted by ticks. Unlike their namesake, RMSF is no vacation for an infected pet. Here is our negative review.
This Thing Gets Around. The Rocky Mountain wood tick, American dog tick, or the brown dog tick are potential carriers of the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii*. These ticks are usually much larger than the deer tick that carries Lyme and Anaplasmosis. Cases have been reported in most areas of the United States, including North Carolina. Like other tick borne diseases, the bacteria moves from the host tick to your pooch via saliva. The main target of R. rickettsii are blood cells, putting all organs in the body at risk.
Signs on the RMSF Road. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, enlarged lymph nodes, joint inflammation, impaired balance, spinal pain, coughing and breathing difficulty, swelling of the face, vomiting or diarrhea. If the infection is severe, purple spots may present inside the eyelids and mouth; these are actually spots of blood from the tissues. If we think your pet might have RMSF, we’ll do an antibody test to verify our suspicions.
Where Do We Go From Here? We treat RMSF with antibiotics. Some pets also need treatment for dehydration and blood loss. The good news is that over 90% of pets survive.
We’ve Been Down This Road Before. The best way to prevent Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is to give preventive medicines. (Read triumph over tenacious ticks here.) We most often recommend Simparica/Simparica Trio. It’s easy to administer, effective, and could save your pet.
At the end of the journey, prevention is the roadmap to bypassing Rocky mountain spotted fever. Next time you take a trip to Town N Country, we’ll give you further directions on how not to get to RMSF.
*This is no relation to the disease rickets, rather it is named after Howard Ricketts who was one of the earlier scientists involved in studying RMSF.