Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Rickettsia Rickettsii (RMSF) is a reoccurring disease in Arizona and Sonora and a public health problem due to the high risk medical complications it provokes. In the region it is transmitted by the bite of the Rhipicephalus sanguineus tick, found in dogs. This tick transmits Rickettsia rickettsii bacteria. Following an incubation period of 3-14 days, it causes acute, non-specific effects early on (fever, headache and rash) that -if not diagnosed and treated in time can be serious or cause death. Death is primarily associated with two factors: (a) delay in diagnosis, and (b) doxycycline, a highly effective antibiotic treatment which is inexpensive and simple to administer is delayed. If doxycycline is not provided before the 5th day after the symptoms begin, the patient can worsen and present with dark purple spots on the body, mostly hands and soles, wrists and ankles as well as have heart, hepatitis, renal, central nervous symptoms and other multiple organ complications. RMSF should be considered a medical priority and a public health problem at the regional level with a network of underlying factors. To prevent and control RMSF in Arizona and Sonora, public health interventions will need to address medical challenges associated with a number of social, political, and environmental factors.
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