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CDC warns of Rocky Mountain Spotted fever in Tennessee, North Carolina

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now warning five states about the tickborne disease Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. 

According to their studies, Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri are the five states that account for more than 60 percent of the nation's spotted fever cases. 

Symptoms show signs in the first 4 days of infection and include high fever, headache and body aches. 

Spotted fever can be fatal without immediate treatment. The ticks that carry the disease have been living and breeding in Tennessee for years according to Ballad Health's Corporate Director for Infection Prevention, Jamie Swift. 

"Those ticks are just endemic to this area. Ticks that carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease, we see a lot of that in this area," says Swift. 

She says tickborne diseases are very treatable, but it is important to catch them early and watch for the symptoms. 

"Typically it's just the general not feeling well, fever, headache, body aches. A lot of tickborne diseases that we see progress to a rash," says Swift. 

New Jersey native and East Tennessee resident Kelsey Krieger has had both Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease. She said a few years ago she noticed the symptoms of spotted fever right away, and found a tick on her inner thigh. 

"I got so sick my whole body was just in muscle spasms for probably four or five days straight. I had 103 to 104 degree fever," says Krieger. 

Spotted fever is much easier to treat than another common tickborne disease, Lyme disease. Krieger had Lyme disease for years without knowing.

"The bacteria is able to burrow into your bones, into your muscles, make colonies and go dormant for years at a time. It's a really smart bacteria. After you've been infected it's so hard to test for it because your immune system doesn't recognize it, so the testing isn't going to recognize it," says Krieger. 

Some of the best ways to prevent tickborne disease is by wearing long sleeves and long pants in outdoor, wooded areas and treating your clothing with tick repellant. It's also important to always check yourself for ticks after spending time outside in the woods or in high grass.

"Most ticks need a good 24 to 36 hours, they need that blood meal to transmit the disease. So if you're doing that tick check when you come in and get the ticks removed then you're not going to be at risk for a tickborne disease," says Swift. 


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