What Are the Symptoms of Tick Bite Fever?

Rocky Mountain spotted fever, spread through tick bites, can be life-threatening.
The brown dog tick can transmit the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
A rash and general feeling of illness can be symptoms of tick bite fever.
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  • Written By: Nicole Long
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 09 June 2015
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Symptoms of tick bite fever vary based on the individual person and the type of tick bite. Visual symptoms of tick bite fever include a black mark at the bite site and a possible rash. Other symptoms of tick bite fever can include an ulcer at the bite site, fever, headache, and a general feeling of illness.

Transmission of the Rickettsial family of bacteria during a tick bite is what leads to this condition. Ticks carry the bacteria in their saliva. Typically, ticks responsible for the transmission of this bacteria can be found in wilderness areas where tall grass are prevalent.

Tick bite fever can occur throughout the world, though it is often known by different names based on the type of tick responsible for the infection. For instance, in the United States this condition is commonly referred to as Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In Australia, it may be referred to as Queensland tick typhus. Symptoms of tick bite fever usually appear less than a week after the initial bite.


The first noticeable symptom of the condition is usually a black mark at the location of the bite, often resembling a small ulcer or spider bite. Other symptoms which appear around the same time as the black mark include a possible rash and fever. The rash can spread over the entire body, but it typically originates on the arms and legs and then moves towards the chest, stomach, and back area. Severe headache can accompany the fever, leaving a person suffering from tick bite fever with a general feeling of illness and fatigue.

Based on the organism responsible for the infection, complications can arise from tick bite fever. For instance, those infected with Rocky Mountain spotted fever can develop life-threatening symptoms if not treated. These can include pneumonia and brain damage. Complications are rare in patients bitten by ticks infected with other strains of bacteria.

Treatment for the infection will be based on the severity of the infection and the patient’s health. Some patients will improve with no medical intervention, while others require medication. Antibiotics are most commonly prescribed to treat varying types of tick bite fever.

Preventing tick bite fever is possible with proper preparation. The use of an insect repellent before heading out into wilderness or rural areas can keep ticks at bay. Avid campers and hikers should take some additional precautions by wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants.


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Post 1

My cat got it, although some swear cats don't. Look for ticks between animals' toes.

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