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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2003 Nov 15;223(10):1450-2, 1433.

Implications of presumptive fatal Rocky Mountain spotted fever in two dogs and their owner.

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Mississippi Department of Health, PO Box 1700, Jackson, MS 39215, USA.


A dog was examined because of petechiation, an inability to stand, pale mucous membranes, a possible seizure, and thrombocytopenia. Tick-borne illness was suspected, but despite treatment, the dog died. Eight days later, a second dog owned by the same individual also died. The dog was not examined by a veterinarian, but Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) was suspected on the basis of clinical signs. Two weeks after the second dog died, the owner was examined because of severe headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, lethargy, and a fine rash on the body, face, and trunk. Despite intensive treatment for possible RMSF, the owner died. Although results of an assay for antibodies to Rickettsia rickettsii were negative, results of polymerase chain reaction assays of liver, spleen, and kidney samples collected at autopsy were positive for spotted fever group Rickettsia spp. These cases illustrate how dogs may serve as sentinels for RMSF in humans and point out the need for better communication between physicians and veterinarians when cases of potentially zoonotic diseases are seen.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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