A. Despite its name, Rocky Mountain spotted fever is far more prevalent in the South and East than it is in the Rocky Mountains. Like Lyme disease, it is caused by a bacterium. Untreated, it can sometimes be a fatal disease. It is spread by dog ticks as well as the deer tick. After two to fourteen days, most infected people suffer from a fever (sometimes 102°F or higher), headache, and achiness. Most people will develop a rash which may begin around the wrists and ankles, but it sometimes starts on the trunk. A classic symptom is a rash on the palms and soles of the feet, but fewer than half of the patients will have that. Untreated, about half of the people infected with Rocky Mountain spotted fever will develop permanent neurological problems.
If you handle a tick while removing it, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly to minimize your risk of infection with RMSF. There are reports of infection simply from contact with an infected tick.