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Discharge Instructions for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a life-threatening illness. It's spread by ticks and can be found in nearly all US states, Canada, and Central and South America.

RMSF is treated with antibiotics. The illness can cause many health problems. These will also need to be treated. Some problems can last a year or more.

Steps to Take


Antibiotics are given to fight the infection. Take all of antibiotics, even when you're feeling better.

If you are taking medicines:

  • Take the medicine as directed. Don’t change the amount or the schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Don’t share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicines can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one medicine. This includes over-the-counter products and supplements.


If you live in places where ticks are common:

  • Wear light-colored clothing. This will make ticks easier to see.
  • Tuck pant legs inside socks. This will keep ticks from crawling up under your pants.
  • Use insect repellents with DEET on exposed skin. Look for repellants that can be used on your clothes.
  • Check your body for ticks after coming in from outside.
  • Check pets for ticks.

If you do find a tick on your body, remove it by:

  • Using fine-tipped tweezers or protected fingers.
  • Grasping tick as close to the top of the skin as you can.
  • Pulling tick straight up with slow steady force.
  • Disinfecting the bite site and washing your hands.
  • Saving tick so it can be identified.


Your doctor will need to check on your progress. Go to all scheduled appointments.

Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occur

Call your doctor if you're not getting better or have other problems such as:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid, irregular heartbeat, or chest pain
  • Rash or hives
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain or swelling

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians


Public Health Agency of Canada

The College of Family Physicians of Canada


Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/rmsf. Accessed November 20, 2018

Rocky Mountain spotted fever. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116078/Rocky-Mountain-spotted-fever. Updated June 7, 2018. Accessed November 20, 2018.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Updated February 23, 2018. Accessed November 19, 2018.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease website. Available at: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/rocky-mountain-spotted-fever. Accessed November 20, 2018.

Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L Horn, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 11/20/2018