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Colorado Tick Fever

Colorado tick fever , also known as mountain fever and mountain tick fever , is a well-described, viral, tick -borne disease common to the Rocky Mountain region of the United States and Canada. The Rocky Mountain wood tick , Dermacentor andersoni, is the primary vector.

Colorado tick fever is a benign infection that occurs in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States.The infection is acquired between March and November in the mountainous western region at altitudes of 4,000' to 10,000' (1,200 to 3,000 m). Colorado tick fever apparently confers long-lasting immunity against reinfection.


Colorado tick fever results from the Colorado tick fever virus, an arbovirus. A hard-shelled wood tick called Dermacentor andersonii transmits the disease to humans. After the adult tick acquires the virus from biting an infected rodent, the tick becomes permanently infected. The virus's incubation period is 3 to 6 days.

Signs and symptoms

High fever, chills, severe headache, muscle aches, and occasionally a faint rash, which lasts about a week. After a 2-3 day remission, symptoms may recur accompanied by a drop in white blood cells. Complications include encephalitis, heart problems, or severe bleeding.

Diagnostic tests

A complete blood count demonstrating leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and serologic findings or viral isolation confirms the diagnosis. Infection of erythroblasts and other marrow cells by the fever virus causes the appearance of erythrocytes containing the virus; these are present for several weeks. This is detected in smears stained by immunofluorescence.


After correct removal of the tick, supportive treatment relieves symptoms, combats secondary infection, and maintains fluid balance.

Folklore Remedies Don't Work!

Folklore remedies, such as the use of petroleum jelly or hot matches, do little to encourage a tick to detach from skin. In fact, they may make matters worse by irritating the tick and stimulating it to release additional saliva or regurgitate gut contents, increasing the chances of transmitting the pathogen. These methods of tick removal should be avoided. A number of tick removal devices have been marketed, but none are better than a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers.


When walking or hiking in tick-infested areas, tuck long pants into socks to protect the legs, and wear shoes and long-sleeved shirts. Ticks will show up on white or light colors better than dark colors, making them easier to remove from your clothing.

Check yourself and your pets frequently. If you find ticks, remove them immediately by using a tweezers, pulling carefully and steadily. Insect repellent may be helpful.

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