Rickettsia is a kind of bacteria that come from ticks. Its transmission to humans could cause several kinds of diseases and some form of typhus. It is commonly known as tick bite fever but it also goes by several other names. Rural and wooded areas are the most common sites where tick bites usually occur.
An infected person may experience different symptoms depending on the severity but the common signs include skin rash, headache and a general feeling of being unwell. Doxycycline, an antibiotic, is the treatment given but should be under the supervision of a medical doctor.
The Rickettsia Bacteria
Tick bite fever comes from a kind of bacteria of the Rickettsial species which has several kinds. This organism is cell dependent perhaps due to the fact that it is very tiny. The organism thrived on wild animals and found its way to ticks that feed on these animals. Through the ticks’ saliva, the infection is transmitted to humans. While in egg stage, offspring can also contract the infection from the infected mother tick.
In the USA, the organism is known as R.ricketsii, blamed for causing Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. In Africa, the infection is known as Boutonneuse or by its common name, African Tick Bite Fever or Mediterranean Spotted Fever caused by the organism R.conorii or the R.africae in South Africa. R.australis is the organism that causes Queensland Tick Typhus in Australia.
Recognizing the Signs of Tick Bite Fever
- After a bite, symptoms may appear in about 5 to 7 days, the typical incubation period of the infection.
- Symptoms may vary depending on the severity, age and underlying health of the person bitten.
- The site of the bite is typically marked by what seems like a bruise that is black in color called an eschar, about 2 to 5 millimeter in diameter and may only be one or multiple.
- Usually a fever accompanies the appearance of the eschar along with other discomforts such as headache.
- Lymph nodes near the site usually swell.
- Rash (small, tiny bumps on the skin) normally starts on the limbs and may eventually involve the whole body.
While the dreadful Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is feared to be deadly and serious, Rickettsia is milder and if treated promptly, complications are rare. Test results may take some time hence doctors would typically take care of the problem right away especially if possible exposure to ticks is established.
Treating the Infection
Some patients manage to overcome the sickness on their own without medical intervention. But doctors would sometimes advise antibiotic treatment to shorten the sickness period and lessen the chances of complications. For more serious cases, a broader antibiotic treatment may be required. Still, the condition is manageable once treatment is administered.
Prevention is Better than Cure
Even if tick bite fever is easy to treat, preventing the bites is way better and you can do this by protecting yourself properly if you like being in the outdoors a lot. Use clothes that can help protect you from ticks or apply skin-friendly insect repellant spray or lotion.
If and when you know you have been exposed to ticks and may have possibly been bitten, observe your condition. Keep in mind that a rash may not always expose itself but an infection could already be taking place. If you suspect that you are suffering from Rickettsia, assess how seriously ill you feel before going to a doctor but do not delay should fever and headache begin and lesions appear.