Skip to content

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)

RMSF is caused by bacteria which is spread to humans through the bite of an infected* tick. The number of cases have grown over the years and cases have been reported throughout the United States but are more common in Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.


How can I get sick? 

  • Being bit by an infected* tick 

Symptoms in humans:  

  • Fever (when your body gets a little hotter than normal) 

  • Headache 
  • Rash 
  • Feeling like you need to throw up 
  • Throwing up 
  • Stomach pain 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Not feeling hungry 
  • Rash 
  • Altered mental status* 
  • Necrosis (blood vessel damage) 
  • Respiratory compromise*

What can I do to stay healthy? 

Before you go outside  

  • Know where ticks live!  
    • Ticks live in grassy, bushy, or wooded areas. They also live on animals.   
      • When hiking or walking outside, try to stay on trails.   
      • While hunting or trapping, use gloves when touching an animal or harvesting* an animal.  
  • Hunting, camping, hiking, gardening, or playing outside can bring you close to ticks.   
  • Treat your clothes, gear (boots, tents, backpacks or camping gear), or any outdoor equipment with insect repellent*.   
  • Wear long pants, long sleeves, and long socks when outside.    
  • Use insect repellents while hiking, camping, hunting, or being outside. Ask an adult to help you with insect repellent*.   

Before you come inside after being outside  

  • Check your clothes, pets, and gear (backpacks, shoes, tents) for ticks before going inside.   
  • If you have a tick on you, ask for help to have it removed.    
  • Shower soon after being outside to wash off ticks and do a tick check.   
  • Check your body for ticks after being outside. Check under your arms, in and around your ears, inside belly button, back of your knees, in and around your hair, between the legs, and around your waist.   


  • Harvesting an animal: The process of removing an animal to be used for meat or fur.
  • Infected: When germs get inside of a body, animal, or an organism.  
  • Altered mental status: A change in how your mind or brain functions.  
  • Respiratory compromise:Trouble with breathing which can cause serious illness or even death.  
  • Insect repellent: Product applied to skin, clothing or surfaces to keep insects away.  


Species Affected

Learn About Other Diseases

Click below to learn more about the many different diseases that can spread between animals and humans.