How To Spot Signs Of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, The Infection That Claimed The Life Of This Toddler

Concerned about a continual high fever 2-year-old Kenley Ratliff was experiencing, her parents took her to the hospital not once but twice. Doctors diagnosed her with strep and prescribed antibiotics, but the toddler only got sicker. Her family decided to take her to the University of Indiana’s Riley Children’s Hospital. On the 200-mile drive from their Plainfield, Indiana, home, she went limp.

At the hospital, Kenley began to develop other symptoms that clued doctors in to the true cause of her illness. However, by the time the physicians treating the little girl realized she was likely suffering from Rocky Mountain spotted fever and began the appropriate treatment, it was too late.

Now, Kenley’s mother hopes to save other parents from the heartbreak they are enduring by raising awareness of the tick-borne disease that claimed this young girl’s life.

What Is It?

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a bacterial infection that can fatally damage the organs if not treated promptly. It is transmitted via tick bites.

tick photo
Getty Images

Who Is At Risk?

If you live in an area where the disease is common, such as North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee or Missouri, you have a higher risk of being infected, although cases have been reported throughout the United States. Spending time in the woods and outdoors as well as having a dog can also increase your risk.


What To Watch For

Symptoms include a high fever, chills, severe headache and muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, restlessness, insomnia and a red, non-itchy rash. The rash typically appears on palms, arms, legs and the soles of the feet.

How to Prevent It

When spending time outdoors, wear pants and long sleeves. Use insect repellent, as well. Clear away brush, leaves and woodpiles on your property. Check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks after being outside and carefully remove any found by grabbing by the head with tweezers. Apply antiseptic to the bite immediately.

removing tick photo
Flickr | fairfaxcounty

[h/t: TODAY]