Relapsing fever – United States

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Two cases of tick-borne relapsing fever found in California.

Both individuals had stayed in cabins in the greater Tahoe area. Symptoms included fever, nausea, headache, and muscle and joint aches.

The two cases were reported in the last two months and were unrelated. Both patients have received treatment and recovered.

Relapsing fever is spread through an infected soft tick that feed on rodents. El Dorado County Public Health recommends keeping rodents out of dwellings, removing rodent nesting materials, and storing food in well-sealed containers.

Photo: Borelia bacteria micrograph.

Relapsing fever is a vector-borne disease caused by infection with certain bacteria in the genus Borrelia, which is transmitted through the bites of lice or soft-bodied ticks.

Most people who are infected develop sickness between 5 and 15 days after they are bitten. The symptoms may include a sudden fever, chills, headaches, muscle or joint aches, and nausea. A rash may also occur. These symptoms usually continue for 2 to 9 days, then disappear. This cycle may continue for several weeks if the person is not treated.

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