MADISON, Wis. – One person died in La Crosse County of a disease that is considered rare in the Midwest, health officials said.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the La Crosse County Health Department said Tuesday that the death is the first documented of the Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Wisconsin.
RMSF occurs most commonly in the central and southeastern regions of the United States, according to a press release. Most diseases transmitted by ticks transmitted in Wisconsin are spread by the black-legged tick (or deer). RMSF, however, is transmitted by the bite of the American dog (or wood).
Early symptoms of RMSF may be mild and usually include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash and stomach pain, DHS said. If left untreated, an RMSF infection can quickly become a serious illness.
DHS encouraged Wisconsin residents to take the following steps to protect themselves and their families from tick bites while enjoying the outdoors:
- Use an insect repellent with at least 20 percent DEET another repellent registered by the EPA according to the instructions on the label.
- Use 0.5 percent permethrin products on clothing, socks and shoes according to the instructions on the label.
- Stay on trails and avoid walking through tall grbades and brush.
- Wear long sleeves and pants, and tuck pants into socks and shirts in pants to avoid ticks under clothing.
- Check your entire body for ticks after being outside.
- Take a shower as soon as possible after entering the outdoors.
- Place clothes in the dryer at high heat for 10 minutes to kill the ticks on the clothes.
- Use a tick prevention treatment prescribed by a pet veterinarian.  DHS said that of the tick-borne diseases in Wisconsin, Lyme disease is the most common, but ticks can also spread anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and, more rarely, RMSF and Powbadan virus.
Many people who contract a tick-borne disease Do not remember a tick bite, so it is also important to know the common symptoms of tick-borne disease, such as fever, rash, headache, body aches and fatigue .
Most tick-borne diseases in Wisconsin can be effectively treated with antibiotics, making early diagnosis critical, health officials said. If symptoms develop after a tick bite or after possible exposure to ticks, consult a health care provider.