Buncombe County, N.C. -- A child in Buncombe County died in early June from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said the child's death marks the first death from RMSF, since 2009. The condition is contracted from a tick bite from an American dog tick known as the Dermacentor Variabilis. It then forms into an infection with a bacterial organism called the Rickettsia rickettsii. RMSF is the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the state of NC according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Laura Gerald, the State Health Director, said it's a sad reminder to check for tick bites.
"This death is a tragic reminder that ticks in our state can carry dangerous and potentially fatal diseases," said Gerald, in a news release. She also said RMSF can spread easily, "Transmission of RMSF from a tick can happen quickly after a bite, so the best way to prevent any tick-borne illness is to limit the opportunity for exposure."
Just last year in 2012, there were 598 probable cases of RMSF reported from 78 counties across the state. A total of 2,044 RMSF cases were reported between the years of 2008-2012 in 93 counties across the state.
A person with RMSF will typically get sick within 3-14 days after a tick bite. Symptoms of RMSF include: fever, muscle pain, headaches, and rash. Early symptoms of it can be similar to the flu.
If you're bitten quickly and safely remove the tick. But take note of the date you removed the tick in case you develop symptoms. RMSF can be treated with antibiotics but some cases can lead to hospitalization or death.
You can limit your exposure to ticks by:
• Using personal protective measures for you and your children prior to going outside
• Treat your clothing with permethrin
• Apply DEET to skin per manufacturer's recommendations
• Modifying your yard to reduce tick populations
• Treating your pet to limit tick attachment, and check for ticks regularly
• After outdoor activities, thoroughly checking yourself and your children for ticks, especially in the hair.
• Properly removing attached ticks