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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2006 Summer;6(2):170-8.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the United States, 1997-2002.

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Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Epidemic Intelligence Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is the most commonly reported fatal tick-borne disease in the United States. During 1997-2002, 3,649 cases of RMSF were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via the National Electronic Telecommunications System for Surveillance; 2,589 case report forms, providing supplemental information, were also submitted. The average annual RMSF incidence during 1997-2002 was 2.2 cases/million persons. The annual incidence increased during 1997-2002 to a rate of 3.8 cases/million persons in 2002. The incidence was lowest among persons aged<5 and 10-29 years, and highest among adults aged 60-69 years. The overall case-fatality rate was 1.4%; the rate peaked in 1998 at 2.9% and declined to 0.7% in 2001 and 2002. Children<5 years of age had a case-fatality rate (5%) that was significantly greater than the rates for age groups<60 years of age, except for that for 40-49 years of age. Continued national surveillance is needed to assess the effectiveness of prevention efforts and early treatment in decreasing severe morbidity and mortality associated with RMSF.

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