Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases found in Calcasieu Parish - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases found in Calcasieu Parish

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

A local doctor has seen three cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Calcasieu Parish in the last several months. It's an illness that can be fatal if not treated promptly.

Health officials say there's no cause for alarm, but suggest people be aware.

It's the time of year when there's more outdoor activity and more ticks, some of which carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Dr. Tim Haman, an infectious disease specialist, says he has seen three cases in Calcasieu Parish in the last two to three months. One was in Moss Bluff. He says he's not sure where the other two cases were.

"It can be a very severe disease, especially in children. It can even be fatal. It typically presents with fever, at least 101 to 102, along with a rash that typically starts on the legs and spreads up toward the trunk," he said.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever has received national attention this month since a toddler in Indiana died of the disease. It's on the rise in Louisiana. Still, Haman says there are only about 20 cases a year.

"Even though we've seen the number of cases double it's still less than 20 a year," he said.

But if left untreated it can kill. So, Haman says it's important to be aware of the symptoms.

"If it's not treated it can definitely be fatal," he said.

However, the rash may not be present at the beginning.

"You can have the fever for several days before the rash pops up," said Haman.

And prompt treatment with a specific antibiotic called Doxycycline is crucial. It's therefore begun before lab results may have confirmed the disease.

"You have to treat before the test is back. You can't wait for the test to treat," said Haman.

To catch the illness the tick must be on a person for several hours. It should be removed as quickly as possible with tweezers. The tick can be taped to a paper and bagged if future lab analysis is needed.

Meanwhile, Haman says do what you can to avoid exposure to ticks by wearing appropriate clothing and insect repellents and checking for ticks after coming inside. 

In the local cases, Haman says all the patients survived.

For more on the signs and symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever click here.

This is the Louisiana Health Department's most recent report on the disease.

Copyright 2017 KPLC All rights reserved

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