Protecting Yourself Against Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Arizona's Summer Heat

July 11, 2023

As the summer heat settles in Arizona, it's important to be aware of the potential risks posed by tick-borne diseases. One such disease is Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), which is prevalent in the state during this time of year. RMSF is a serious illness caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks. Being informed about RMSF and taking necessary precautions can help keep you and your loved ones safe during outdoor activities in Arizona's beautiful landscapes.

Understanding RMSF:

Rocky Mountain spotted fever can present with various symptoms, including fever, headache, rash, muscle aches, and fatigue. If left untreated, it can lead to severe complications affecting the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial for managing the disease effectively.

Preventing RMSF:

  • Use insect repellent: Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or other recommended ingredients to exposed skin and clothing.
  • Wear protective clothing: When venturing into tick-prone areas such as forests or grassy areas, wear long sleeves, long pants tucked into socks, and closed-toe shoes.
  • Conduct regular tick checks: After spending time outdoors, thoroughly check your body and clothing for ticks. Pay close attention to hidden areas such as underarms, behind the knees, and the scalp.
  • Create a tick-safe yard: Keep your yard clean and well-maintained by regularly mowing the lawn, clearing leaf litter, and creating barriers to prevent ticks from entering.

Local Resources for RMSF Awareness and Prevention:

  1. Arizona Department of Health Services: Visit their website for comprehensive information about RMSF, tick identification, prevention strategies, and current alerts.
  2. Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center: Reach out to their helpline at 1-800-222-1222 for expert advice on tick bite management, symptom recognition, and treatment options.
  3. Arizona Vector Control Program: Contact your local vector control office or health department to inquire about local tick surveillance programs, tick testing services, and additional resources.
  4. Arizona Cooperative Extension: Explore the Cooperative Extension's resources on tick identification, tick-proofing your home, and other preventive measures specific to your region.

As you enjoy the summer in Arizona, stay vigilant against the risks of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. By taking preventive measures, educating yourself about the disease, and utilizing local resources, you can reduce the chances of tick bites and protect yourself and your loved ones from RMSF. Remember, early detection and timely treatment are key to managing this potentially serious illness. Stay informed, stay safe, and enjoy a healthy summer in Arizona's great outdoors!