Rocky Mountain spotted fever primary prevention

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


The most potent risk factor in the development of Rocky Mountain spotted fever is exposure to infected ticks. Therefore proper prevention is achieved by emphasizing personal protection from ticks when traveling through a tick-infested habitats. In persons exposed to tick-infested habitats, prompt careful inspection and removal of crawling or attached ticks is an important method of preventing disease. It may take extended attachment time before organisms are transmitted from the tick to the host.


Tuck pants into socks

It is unreasonable to assume that a person can completely eliminate activities that may result in tick exposure. Therefore, prevention measures should emphasize personal protection when exposed to natural areas where ticks are present:

  • Wear light-colored clothing which allows you to see ticks that are crawling on your clothing.
  • Tuck your pants legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up the inside of your pants legs.
  • Apply repellents to discourage tick attachment. Repellents containing permethrin can be sprayed on boots and clothing, and will last for several days. Repellents containing DEET (n, n-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to the skin, but will last only a few hours before reapplication is necessary. Use DEET with caution on children. Application of large amounts of DEET on children has been associated with adverse reactions.
  • Conduct a body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas by searching your entire body for ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Remove any tick you find on your body.
  • Parents should check their children for ticks, especially in the hair, when returning from potentially tick-infested areas.
  • Ticks may also be carried into the household on clothing and pets and only attach later, so both should be examined carefully to exclude ticks.[1]


  1. General Tick Disease Information. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). Accessed on December 30, 2015