Rocky Mountain spotted fever is one of the most fatal tick-borne disease in the world, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, access to antibiotics has lowered fatality rates from 28% in 1944 to less than 0.5% today.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be spread to humans through the bite of an infected tick. The disease itself is caused by the bacterium R. rickettsii, which belongs to a genus of bacteria that cause typhus and other forms of spotted fevers. Rocky Mountain spotted fever was discovered in 1906 by Howard Ricketts, who later died of typhus, carried by rodent.
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Although the majority of cases of the disease are reported in North Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can occur in virtually every US state.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced on Tuesday the first documented death in the state due to the disease. Rebecca Osborn, a pathologist who investigated the Wisconsin woman’s death, said that the death does not necessarily indicate increased risk of contracting the disease in Wisconsin.
The incidence of spotted fever rickettsiosis, a category that includes Rocky Mountain spotted fever, has increased from fewer than 2 cases per million people in 2000 to over 11 in 2014, according to the CDC. And vector-borne diseases, those spread by such creatures as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas, have nearly tripled since 2004, the CDC reported in May.
According to the World Health Organization, vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases and cause more than 700,000 deaths globally every year.