Patient Comments: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - Symptoms and Signs


What symptoms and signs did you experience with Rocky Mountain spotted fever? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: RMSF long term , 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 12

I was a very healthy 33 year old with no known tick bite. For the first time in my life I could not get out of bed. I had severe fatigue, abdominal cramps, headaches and muscle aches with Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I couldn’t think straight and had trouble finding words. No rash. I had a fever of 103 for a couple of days. After 2 weeks of doxycycline I felt better but have never gotten back to normal. Now I feel like I am 20 years older than I am.

Comment from: Tired, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: June 09

I had Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) in 2013, but after many trips to the doctor, I wasn’t diagnosed until 2018. Looking back, they can now see when in 2013 I had it. There just isn’t enough diagnostic information out there for them to recognize it. Since 2013 I’ve suffered extreme fatigue, confusion, heat intolerance, severe muscle and joint pain, vision changes, etc. There is no recovery from this if not treated early. I’m on doxycycline for the fifth time since 2018 and likely will be, for the rest of my life, however long that may be.

Comment from: Kenia, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: March 24

I haven’t been diagnosed yet but I have all the symptoms Rocky Mountain spotted fever since September. Pins and needles, pulses, abdominal pain, I feel that I have inflammation inside my body. I wonder if anyone recovered 100 percent after treatment.

Comment from: Donna, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: September 18

My symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever were nausea, loss of balance, depression, loss of appetite and desire to sleep all the time. I was thirsty, but unable to keep even water down.

Comment from: Scamp, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: January 02

I got flu like symptoms in May, and doctor tested for Lyme which came back negative. I got sicker and sicker, no rash, was tested for cancer, lupus, had MRI, EEG, and tested again for Lyme, negative again. After 4 months and leaving my doctor for another who found Rocky Mountain spotted fever, I started treatment. I was out of work for 8 months with headache, night sweats, and pain in legs every day. I had to take 60 days of antibiotics; lucky to be alive, scary stuff.

Comment from: Denny, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: October 04

I'm a deer hunter. I felt like flu, had no energy, red eyes and lightheadedness. I took pills for Rocky Mountain spotted fever for 14 days and it went away, but 3 weeks later the same symptoms came back. I did blood work and I still had it. I am going to take another dose and hope it works this time. It is hard to work with no energy. I'm 60 years old and if it goes away this time, I never want this mess again.

Comment from: Jill, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: September 07

In the summer of 2016 I developed a bite on my left arm which looked like a brown recluse spider bite. The doctor wasn't sure and said she would run tests. It was a tick bite and I had Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) and I began taking doxycycline. I never had rash, but it felt like flu. Then next summer I found a small seed tick between my toes. I never imagined I could get RMSF again, but I did, and this time full force. I had rash on my stomach area, fever, and headaches. Then as a side effect I began to have breathing difficulty and went to the emergency room.

Comment from: Gabby1124, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: August 28

I have had Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) for 4 weeks now. One day my body started to ache and I began a fever that night. After 4 days of fever, headache and rash I went to the Emergency Department. They diagnosed me right away and I was put on treatment 3 weeks ago, but I am still having fevers. The rash has subsided and the fevers are lessening but the body aches and fevers still persist.

Comment from: dmrobinson, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 15

I never had the classic symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. After 4 visits to the emergency room, several visits to primary care doctor, allergist, gastroenterologist and neurologist, I had even asked about Lyme test and was told that wasn't the problem. I finally went to urgent care 2 months after initial visits began. I did the test and now on 21 day supply of doxycycline. My stomach hurts all the time and is bloated. I have no strength or energy. Wish someone would have listened to me 4 weeks ago!

Comment from: Dakota, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 23

I thought I was the only one until recently. It was 1981 when I got Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). I had 105 temperature for over a week, and lock jaw for 5 days. My grandfather waited in town for 3 days for the Greyhound bus to deliver the medication. I had a swollen arm that oozed pus for weeks. I've got no record of it. I'm now 40 and I hurt constantly. I've got other unexplainable problems I've blamed on RMSF. I can't get the doctor to listen to me. Bloodwork comes back fine but I am not fine!


Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) See a picture ofRocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) and other bacterial skin conditions See Images
Comment from: rocky75, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 25

My Rocky Mountain spotted fever symptoms were paralysis, speech impairment, stuttering, brain fog, and irregular periods.

Comment from: hmama93848, 7-12 Male (Caregiver) Published: August 14

My son had a tick attached to him on a Monday (not sure for how long), and about 10 days later suddenly had a fever, headache and stomach ache. He vomited the next morning and had a fever ranging from 100 to 103 over the next 3 days. He couldn't sit upright for very long, had no appetite, and vomited about once a day. I took him to the doctor on day 3 of the fever, and he was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) even though he didn't have the rash. The timeline was textbook along with the other symptoms. He started tetracycline and started feeling better within a couple of days. He was slightly dehydrated and his platelets, white blood count and sodium levels were low enough that they wanted to admit him for fluids but we hydrated him with water and G2 which did the trick. He developed the rash on his shins a couple of days later. We are 3 weeks from onset of symptoms and his white blood count is still slightly below the normal range. We live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Comment from: Jody, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 05

I spent the winter in Costa Rica, on the Caribbean-Panama Border and must have been bitten by a tick there, though never saw it. I got suddenly very tired, had fevers and chills and had no appetite. I asked the local doctor for antibiotics and took them two weeks in a row (Cipro). I then returned to the U.S., not knowing what was wrong with me, wondered if I had malaria. I developed a rash at 2 1/2 weeks that looked like lots of mosquito bites and was not itchy. I walked into an emergency room and was first diagnosed with swimmers' itch. I returned a week later and the doctor said he did not know what it was. I had trouble walking, slept most of the time, did not eat and lost 18 lb. and had terrible brain fog. The next morning, he called me and said to check myself into the hospital right away and was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). Because it is never seen here, many doctors stopped in to see what it looked like and ask questions. I was put on doxycycline for 12 days and was feeling better, the rash was going away. After 6 days of stopping the medications, the rash was returning to my hands and I am now on the doxycycline again. I am very tired and cannot work.

Comment from: Vernon, 45-54 Male (Caregiver) Published: October 08

I had severe flu like symptoms on March 2008. I was wiped out. My fever peaked at 104 three days after the first symptoms. By 5 days, my neck hurt so bad I could not sleep. I could not move it. Excruciating pain. The doctor's diagnosis was post viral syndrome. A shot, Valium, and painkillers made it better. The next morning, the pain was back. I had to hold my head to sit up. This went on for five months. I had severe knee pain one day, and severe hip pain the next day, and bouts of severe diarrhea. I felt buzzing all over my body, and in my brain. I saw doctor after doctor. I told them I had a tick bite. I slowly recovered. Five months later, I could not move my legs right and I was not able to move fast. I was falling. Vertigo. I've fallen hundreds of times. I started having severe back pain. Three MRIs showed bulging discs, but no nerve impingement. I almost could not walk and had severe pain. Nerve conduction studies showed neuropathy in both legs. I had muscle pain in both legs, very tight. I couldn't use stairs without a railing, had muscle weakness, pain went to my knees and hips. I thought it was Lyme’s disease. Test came back RMSF. I had positive IgG for rickettsia. The gold standard is 1:64 titer by IFA. That was negative. I had one round of doxycycline, which is not enough to clear a chronic infection. I was referred to a rheumatologist. I still have not been treated. I started taking 2000 mg of vitamin C, and my back, knees, and hips are better. I need the full course of antibiotics.

Comment from: outdoors, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 19

I discovered red rash that grew over 5 to 7 days. Approximately 5 to 7 long red, oval, bumpy, itchy, raised rashes. I woke up on day five with severe headache, confusion, joint pain, severe vertigo, and high blood pressure. I had no fever but a spotty rash. I was misdiagnosed for over four weeks and all tests were negative for Lyme. After two emergency room visits it was finally discovered by infectious disease doctor. Too late...I did two rounds of antibiotics. I have permanent brain lesions and dead areas. One year later, I still have headaches, dizziness, memory problems, and fatigue.

Comment from: traveler, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 19

I had severe headaches, loss of appetite, and extreme fatigue. After feeling something in my head, my initial test for Lyme disease and RMSF were negative. (I was prescribed doxycycline, thank goodness.) I continued to feel like I was in poor health and persuaded my doctor to run another panel for the diseases;

Comment from: pollyana stanley, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 29

My case started with a fever and severe body ache. I have no recollection of a tick bite. Within 3 days I developed a flat rash on my stomach and lower legs that looked like I'd been sand-blasted. Nausea and fatigue began about that time too. The headache and confusion started about Day 5...the day I was diagnosed and started Doxycycline. I had elevated liver function, lower platelets, and low white blood cell count. This is Day 12 and the fever is gone but I'm still feeling very weak.


Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: See Photos of the Rash See Slideshow
Comment from: shorty62, 3-6 Female (Caregiver) Published: May 28

My daughter died from RMSF 16 days after her 6th birthday, in June of 2008. One symptom that is not mentioned is low platelet count. Your platelets are supposed to be in the 100,000s, and hers were 17,000 – yet the doctor still did nothing. Once we got her to the children's hospital, they didn't give her the treatment she needed until she died and they put her on life support. Also, a tick doesn't have to bite. Sick ticks are too weak to attach themselves. If they crawl across a sore or scratch, then the disease can get into your system. In over 50% of cases, a tick has not been seen or found. So, be very careful and demand the medicine if you have the symptoms.

Comment from: Carolina, 55-64 Male (Caregiver) Published: May 06

I got a tick bite 10 days before my symptoms appeared. I had many symptoms, including a high fever, over 103 F (39.4 C), headache, stiff neck, bloodshot eyes, sensitivity to light, no appetite, fatigue, confusion, rash on my back and chest that was flat pink and was not itchy, and raised liver enzymes. I was prescribed doxycycline, which got my temperature back to normal after three days.