A 54-year-old man died of Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) on April 26 of this year, in the municipality of Manhuaçu. According to the City Hall, he lived in the Nossa Senhora Aparecida neighborhood and had contact with tick-infested areas, such as the Bom Pastor and Ponte da Aldeia neighborhoods, close to the Manhuaçu River.
The city hall explained that the man had comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.
The Manhuaçu Health Surveillance explained that it suspected that this man’s death could have been due to dengue, chikungunya or spotted fever and took the case under investigation. After examinations, they confirmed the cause.
RMSF is an acute, febrile, infectious disease of varying severity. The infectious disease is transmitted through the infected star tick.
It can present from mild and atypical clinical forms to severe forms, with a high lethality rate. The main symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever are fever, severe headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, constant muscle pain, swelling and redness in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and gangrene in the fingers and ears.
The disease can also cause paralysis of the limbs, starting in the legs, reaching the lungs, causing respiratory arrest. In addition, with the evolution of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, it is common for the appearance of red spots on the wrists and ankles, which do not itch, but can increase towards the palms of the hands, arms or soles of the feet.
In Brazil, two species of this bacterium are associated with clinical features of spotted fever: Rickettsia rickettsii, recorded in the north of the state of Paraná and in the states of the Southeast region; and Rickettsia parkeri, which has been recorded in Atlantic Forest environments (Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Bahia and Ceará).
Treatment should be started with antibiotics after the first symptoms appear to avoid serious complications such as brain inflammation, paralysis, respiratory failure or kidney failure, which can endanger the patient’s life.