State confirms first Rocky Mountain spotted fever death

Generic photo. (Image courtesy MGN Online)

MADISON (AP) -- State health officials are confirming Wisconsin's first documented death from Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

The state Department of Health Services announced in a news release Tuesday the tick-borne disease has killed a La Crosse woman.

Jo Foellimi, a La Crosse County public health nurse, says the woman was bit while camping in western Wisconsin in early May.

The woman was diagnosed with RMSF in mid-June and died days later. Foellimi says the woman was in her late 50s but declined to identify her.

RMSF is spread by the American dog tick. The disease is rarely reported in Wisconsin and more typically found in the central and southeastern United States. Symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash and stomach pain.

Fellimi says the dog tick is less active in summer but people should still use repellant, avoid tall grass and check themselves for ticks.

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