Rickettsia Rickettsii causes the illness known as the Rocky Mountain Fever.
It is a bacteria that is transmitted by the mouths of the ticks “Ixodiadaes“ (hard ticks) which infest dogs when the ticks are most active, from April to September. Any dog, regardless of it’s age, which has not had previous contact with Rickettsia can develop this illness.
The Rickettsias usually live in the cells that cover small blood vessels and consequently, these blood vessels become inflamed or obstructed, or even start to lose blood into the tissue surrounding them. Because of this vasculitis that is caused by multiplying, the symptoms can develop as soon as 2-3 days after being bitten by a tick and in many cases the tick will have left the animal before the symptoms appear. Although the majority of dogs do not present symptoms of infection.
Humans can also contract this disease by being bitten by a tick, but cats are resistant to infection.
Most common symptoms are fever, depression….. although symptoms can also be pulmonary, renal, poliarthritis and in some cases can affect the nervous system. Frequently small amounts of bruising or bleeding can appear around the mucosa and skin, because of a decrease in the platelets in the blood, due to an excessive consumption of platelets in the inflamed areas.
Diagnosis is formed by the presence of symptoms, ticks and a positive blood test. Blood testing is a diagnostic procedure, which consists in determining the presence of anti-bodies against Rickettsia in the dog’s blood. This test can be carried out every year, in this way we will know if the animal is infected or not and prevent a massive infection by this disease.
Treatment is given to control the symptoms of the animal and antibiotics will be given. Most common treatment is Doxiciclina, an anti-biotic used during 2 – 4 weeks. In puppies of less than 5 months, Cloranfenicol can be given during 2 weeks. Symptoms begin to improve between 24 – 48 hours after having started the treatment.
Pronostic will be favorable if treatment is started as soon as possible.
This illness does not happen twice in the same animal….. after being affected the animal creates an immunity towards it.
The best way to prevent the disease is to have tick infestation under control, as it is they who cause this disease and carry it and transmit it to their Young, so that the Young will be infected without having been in contact with an infected animal. There are a great number of products on the market to protect against Rickettsia that can be used on animals and areas where animals congregate, such as kennels etc.