Metro Health Department warns of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - WSMV News 4

Metro Health Department warns of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

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(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)

After a debilitating five-week battle with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, 20-year-old Katie Underhill passed away.

It happened last month in McMinnville as the result of a tick bite.

Underhill is the most recent victim of the infection, but she’s not the only one.

"This past year we've had over 500 cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, 24 cases in Davidson County," said Brian Todd, spokesperson for the Metro Public Health Department.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a bacterial infection carried by ticks. It's passed when they bite. The symptoms are flu-like: fever, rash, headache, nausea, abdominal and muscle pain.

"Usually those symptoms might show up anywhere from two to 14 days after they've been bitten," Todd said.

The health department is warning everyone to wear repellant against mosquitoes and ticks when they go outside. When they come back in, do thorough tick checks.

"And your pets because they can bring them into the house as well," Todd said.

If a tick is found, Todd said be sure to pull it out the right way.

"You want to grab the tick, get a good hold on it, and pull with steady force straight up. Don't try to twist it or pull it sideways," he said.

Be sure to remove the entire tick, then do everyone else a favor and get rid of it.

"If you're out and you don't have access to a bathroom, certainly you can use tape to tape it closed so it doesn't attach to anyone. And then when you get to a place where you may be able to flush it down the toilet, do that," Todd said.   

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