San Diego resident dies from tick bite; health officials warn of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

SAN DIEGO — Health officials are warning the public to be aware of tickborne illnesses after a San Diego resident recently died from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

A San Diego resident traveled to the Baja California region before becoming sick and later dying, the County of San Diego Communications Office reported Tuesday. They did not specify an exact timeline.

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This is prompting San Diego County public health officials to raise awareness of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Humans and dogs can contract the disease from a tick bite. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is treated with antibiotics most efficiently when a person is diagnosed within the first week. Those with the disease can develop a spotted red rash. Early symptoms include fever, headaches, and stomach upset, so health officials warn anyone with insect bites or who recently traveled to report it to a doctor.

Ticks are generally found in grassy, wooded areas. The county of San Diego noted in areas like Baja California, ticks are a year-round risk because strays often carry infected ticks. In San Diego County, there are typically only one to three cases each year.

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The last time a death from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever was reported locally was in 2014.

The county of San Diego reports all three cases in San Diego County residents reported so far this year were from travel to areas where Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is more common.


The County’s Vector Control Program monitors ticks, rodents and mosquitoes that can transmit diseases to humans.

There are around 850 different types of ticks throughout the world. Ticks can carry many different diseases, including Lyme disease, Tickborne relapsing fever (TBRF), 364D rickettsiosis, Tularemia, and many others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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The CDC has several tips for preventing tick bites online.

Anyone bitten by a tick should remove it with tweezers. Let a doctor know you were bitten, how long it was attached, and in what part of the world you were bitten. Save the tick for identification because only certain ticks carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

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