Eskenazi Health pediatrician
Ticks are always an unwelcome nuisance during the warmer months of the year in central Indiana, but following the recent tragic news of a fatality involving a pediatric patient diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever, it’s imperative that everyone be aware of ticks now more than ever.
Although the name implies that the disease is related to the Rocky Mountains, it is most commonly seen in the southeastern and south central states.
The disease is spread to humans through the bite of an infected tick. Most often, the infected tick is a dog tick, but sometimes it can be a wood tick. Cases tend to occur from April through September. The ailment most often affects children and teenagers younger than 15, especially those who spend time outdoors or have pets that might carry the ticks.
Infected children first have symptoms common to many other infectious diseases, including flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, severe headaches, vomiting, nausea and loss of appetite.
Symptoms usually appear about one week after the tick bite occurs. The incubation period, however, can range from two to 14 days.
A rash develops in most cases, typically before the sixth day of the illness. The rash tends to appear first on the wrists and ankles, but within hours it can spread to the torso. It can also be found on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
The rash is red, spotted and raised. Other symptoms may include joint and stomach pain and diarrhea. In severe cases a person’s blood pressure can drop, and he may become confused. As the infection spreads, many organs, including the brain, can be affected.
If your child has been exposed to ticks or you know they have been bitten by one, contact your pediatrician if your child develops any of these symptoms. Your pediatrician will evaluate your child’s symptoms and use blood tests to confirm the diagnosis of the disease.
If you are in need of a pediatrician for your child or a primary care physician for yourself, please call 317-880-8687 or visit www.eskenazihealth.edu/doctors.