Health officials in Wisconsin are urging residents to take precautions after the state reported it's first-ever death linked to Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Officials did not name the victim, but described her as a woman in her late 50s who was bit by a tick while camping in early May.
The woman was reportedly diagnosed with the tick-borne illness in mid-June, and died shortly after, Channel3000.com reported.
“We are saddened to learn of this death and encourage Wisconsin residents to take steps to protect themselves and their families from tick bites while enjoying the outdoors,” Karen McKeown, a state health officer, said in a DHS news release.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is most commonly transmitted by dog ticks, which live in more open areas like abandoned fields or prairies, Journal Sentinel reports. It most commonly strikes in the central and southeast regions of the U.S. Most tick-borne diseases in Wisconsin are transmitted by black-legged ticks, also called deer-ticks, which live in wooded, brushy areas.
Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever include fever, rash, nausea, headache, and stomach pain, that if untreated, can worsen and possibly lead to death.
The Department of Health also offered tips to stay safe, such as using insect repellent, staying on trails and avoiding walking through vegetation, wearing long sleeves and long pants, and taking a shower immediately after time outdoors.