Colorado Tick Fever (also referred as CTF or Mountain Fever) is a viral infection from a wood tick bite. This is different from the wider known Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever that is a bacterial infection. Prevalent in the west United States and Canada area, it is common in mountain regions.
First Signs of CTF
While the virus can incubate for up to three weeks, generally the first symptoms will start to appear 3-6 days from the bite of the tick.
- Fever, chills
- Eye pain, light sensitivity
- Muscle pain, stomach pain
- Vomiting and nausea
Later symptoms of CTF occur after a brief remission of symptoms, after a high fever starts them over again.
Colorado Tick Fever Complications
Some cases, especially those in kids, need hospitalization. There are some cases that may lead to hemorrhagic fever, encephalitis, or even meningitis. Getting an early diagnosis and following proper treatment can lead to fewer cases going to extremes or developing any complications.
As there is not a broad spectrum treatment plan for CTF, generally it is all about treating the symptoms. After the tick is properly removed (with tweezers at the head to remove it fully) Tylenol can help with the pain and fever that may be felt. Doctors can help one go through the effects of the viral infection, but for now there is no pill or shot to immediately relieve the infection.
Preventing Tick Bites
- During the hot summer months, always try to stay away from areas where ticks infest (heavily wooded areas, tall grasses, etc). Walk on paths that have been cut down or areas with walkways instead of exploring areas not designed as pathways that may have taller brush.
- Use repellent that has DEET, as DEET is more likely to actually repel biting stinging insects and ticks. Make sure to use the repellent as directed and wash thoroughly when coming back indoors.
- Wear light colored clothes with long pants and sleeved shirts. The less your skin is exposed the less likely you will get a tick on your skin, rather find them on your clothes. Light clothes are also better to see any ticks that may have gotten on your clothes.
- Check your body for ticks upon leaving the outdoors. Look on the arms and legs first as they are most likely to be on those places, but check all skin by the time you are done. Have someone check your back and your head especially the neck area and where your hairline is.
- Remove any ticks you find immediately with tweezers, do not use a lit match.