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Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii and is potentially fatal when contracted by humans. The brown dog tick has been identified as a reservoir of R. rickettsii. Many cases of RMSF in the Southwest have occurred within communities with a large number of free-roaming dogs; however, it can be contracted anywhere by animals and humans from ticks which travel from one host to another.
Check your pets regularly for ticks, especially after they spend time outdoors. If a tick is found on a pet or on you, remove it right away. If It is important that the head of the tick be removed because it can easily detach from the rest of its body when feeding, as it burrows its head under the skin. If you are unsure if the head of the tick has been removed, seek the assistance of a doctor (MD or DVM respectively), to ensure that the entire tick has been removed.
Often there are multiple ticks on the body, so make sure that your pet is thoroughly examined for any other potential ticks. Seeking the assistance of a veterinarian is recommended.
To reduce tick habitat in one's yard, keep your yard free of leaf litter, tall grasses, weeds and brush around your home. Mowing the lawn frequently and removing old furniture, mattresses and other items stored in the yard will decrease the amount of areas in which ticks love to hide.
If you or your pet have been bitten by a tick, it is strongly recommended that you seek advice from your doctor and/or veterinarian immediately in order to receive specific information and instructions for treatment and care.