10 Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a disease that spreads from animals to humans through tick bites. This disease was first discovered in the Rocky Mountain region but has been identified in different states as well as in other countries. Rocky Mountain spotted fever manifests through a combination of fever, rash and a positive history of a tick bite. Take a look at ten symptoms that can indicate a Rocky Mountain spotted fever infection.

Increased Body Temperature

Fever occurs when your body’s temperature becomes higher than the normal range. A high fever of 102 to 104 F typically accompanies Rocky Mounted spotted fever. Side effects of the fever may include sweating, shivering, headache and muscle pain.


People affected with Rocky Mountain spotted fever often vomit, either due to toxins present due to the disease or to the inflammatory chemicals the body produces in response to the infection. Vomiting can be dangerous if the condition lasts a long time, leading to a loss of a significant amount of water and electrolytes.


Rocky Mountain spotted fever drains your body’s energy sources to fight the disease, so patients may feel very tired. Other symptoms of the disease, including fever, nausea and vomiting, severe headache, muscle pain and lack of appetite contribute to lack of sleep, which also adds to fatigue.

Loss of Appetite

People affected by Rocky Mountain spotted fever lose their appetite and want to eat less. They may experience nausea and vomiting as well, decreasing their appetite even further. The resulting loss of nutrients can lead to weight loss in some people.


Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause severe headaches. You may also feel like your muscles hurt without any obvious reason. This headache and muscle pain are exhausting, making them one of the reasons Rocky Mountain spotted fever patients feel fatigued.

Restlessness and Insomnia

The high fever, chills, and headaches of Rocky Mountain spotted fever can make it difficult to fall asleep, resulting in even more fatigue. Insomnia doesn’t set in immediately upon infection but can last up to 14 days.

Inflammation of the Parotid Gland

Rocky Mountain spotted fever occasionally leads to an inflammation of the parotid gland, which is located within the cheek tissue. The parotid gland manufactures and delivers saliva through a duct leading from the gland to the mouth. When the parotid gland is inflamed, it becomes swollen and painful, appearing as a swelling on the side of the face. It can also become difficult to chew or to swallow food when the parotid gland is inflamed.

Patterning of Symptoms

The symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever follow a predictable pattern, which can help differentiate the disease from others sharing similar symptoms. High fever, insomnia, severe headache, loss of appetite, fatigue, and vomiting are all early symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. It is usually difficult to come up with a diagnosis of the disease at the early stage because these symptoms are common to so many other conditions. However, more specific signs and symptoms start to appear later on, specifically including the maculopapular and petechial rashes that the disease is known for. Other later-developing symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever include inflammation of the conjunctiva, joint pain, and confusion.

Maculopapular Rash

The maculopapular rash of Rocky Mountain spotted fever starts out as flat, pink and small spots that don’t itch, typically on the wrists, forearms or ankles. These spots, which appear two to five days after the onset of the high fever, tend to turn pale when you apply some degree of pressure on them. The spots can eventually become raised above the surface of the skin. In some patients, the rash only appears on the palms or soles, and some patients never develop a rash.

Petechial Rash

A petechial rash can also accompany Rocky Mountain spotted fever. A petechia, which is a small spot that can be either red or purple, is the result of bleeding from a capillary.