A 77-year-old man from the city of Sorocaba in São Paulo state is the first confirmed death due to Rocky Mountain Spotted fever (RMSF) this year, according to a G1 Globo report (computer translated).

According to the city officials, the victim contracted the disease in Jumirim (SP) and died in June.

To date, the Sorocaba Health Department has been notified of 15 suspected cases of fever. In addition to the death of the elderly man, one suspect case is still under investigation and 13 cases were discarded after the testing.

This year, there were 15 confirmed cases in the State of São Paulo and there were at least seven deaths. In 2017, 65 cases of the disease were registered in the state. Of this number, 32 people died.

Characteristic spotted rash of Rocky Mountain spotted fever/CDC
Characteristic spotted rash of Rocky Mountain spotted fever/CDC

RMSF is a tick borne disease caused by the organism, Rickettsia rickettsii. Typically, the progress of the disease is a sudden onset of high fever, deep muscle pain, severe headache and chills. A rash usually appears on the extremities within 5 days then soon spreads to palms and soles and then rapidly to the trunk.

Fatalities can be seen in greater than 20% of untreated cases. Death is uncommon with prompt recognition and treatment.

The absence or delayed appearance of the typical rash or the failure to recognize it, especially in dark-skinned people cause a delay in diagnosis and increased fatalities. Early stages of RMSF can be confused with erlichiosis, meningococcal meningitis and enteroviral infection.