According to the Ministry of Health, infections and deaths caused by rickettsiosis have soared over a
100% in Baja California, in a comparison of the incidence between the years 2020 and 2021.
Dr. Néstor Saúl Hernández Milan, head of the Evaluation and Monitoring Unit of the Institute of Public Health Services of Baja California (ISESALUD) pointed out that 58 cases were reported in 2021, of which 15 died, while in 2020 there were 25 cases and eight deaths.
“Of these 58 positive cases, we have 23 in Mexicali, 17 in Tijuana, 16 in Ensenada, and two cases in Vicente Guerrero and San Quintín. Deaths so far have been 15, out of which are seven in Mexicali, seven in Tijuana, and one in Ensenada ”, he declared.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (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. Still approximately 3-5% of cases seen in the U.S. are fatal. 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.
The organism is maintained in nature in ticks. It can be transmitted to dogs and other mammals, but most times these cases cause little illness. People usually get infected from an infected tick bite. The tickrequires from several hours to 24 hours of attachment and feeding to become infectious to people. So prompt removal of the tick can prevent infection. It is not transmitted person to person.
RMSF can be diagnosed in the laboratory using serological techniques, PCR or culture; however because of the necessity of prompt treatment, diagnosis is based on symptoms. There is no vaccine available for RMSF. It can be treated with tetracyclines either orally or intravenously.
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