According to a new study, mounting costs are associated with the Rocky Mountain spotted fever or RMSF among several American Indian tribes in Arizona.
Basic tick bite prevention techniques can lower the number of patients diagnosed with RMSF.
In the United States, the average cost per RMSF related death is nearly five times that of the pneumococcal disease, helping to result in over $13 million in economic losses during the more than decade long epidemic.
Naomi Drexler, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is completely preventable. State, federal and tribal health authorities have been working together since the start of the epidemic to build effective community-based tick control programs, and these efforts have produced remarkable reductions in human cases.”
Researchers with the CDC and the Indian Health Service reviewed 205 medical records from between 2001 and 2011 from a two Native tribes at the center of the epidemic, finding that 80 percent of RMSF cares require emergency, 14 percent were admitted to the intensive care unit, and 7 percent were fatal. The average cost per death for RMSF was $775,467, more than five times the $140,862 cost per death for pneumococcal disease in the United States.
More than 300 cases of RMSF and 20 deaths have been reported in Arizona India reservations leading to an estimated $13.2 million in economic losses.
RMSF symptoms are fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes rash with severely ill patients require amputations of toe, fingers or limbs due to blood loss, heart and lung specialty care, and management in intensive care units. The average time from the start of the symptoms to death is 8 days, with more than 20 percent of untreated cases being fatal.
Treatment with antibiotic doxycycline early enough can be effective, there is no vaccine for RMSF.
Researchers say treating homes and lawns, as well as placing tick collars on dogs and pets are recognized as the best ways to prevent RMSF.
Drexler said, “These programs are costly, but medical expenses and lives lost cost four times more than RMSF prevention efforts. Increasing access to these prevention efforts is critical to save lives and protect communities.”