Colorado Tick Fever Treatment & Management

Updated: Mar 20, 2017
  • Author: Cassis Thomassin, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Approach Considerations

Emergency department (ED) care of patients with Colorado tick fever is the same as that for any patient with a febrile illness. The essential decision is whether a serious treatable infection exists; history taking and physical examination must be directed toward this issue. Exclusion of the treatable infections listed in the differential diagnosis, as well as any other serious bacterial infection, is the goal of care. Administration of fluids and antipyretics as needed is indicated. Consultation with an infectious disease specialist may be appropriate in some cases.

If a tick is found to be still attached to the patient, it must be removed. The removal method that is generally recommended is to grasp the tick with a forceps or fine-point tweezers near the point of attachment and then to pull straight outward with steady, even, gentle traction. Twisting and squeezing should be avoided, because they may facilitate the movement of pathogens into the host and may be more likely to leave tick mouthparts embedded in the skin. [9]

Patients diagnosed with Colorado tick fever should continue antipyretic therapy. They should be instructed to follow up with a primary care physician and to refrain from donating blood or bone marrow for at least 6 months after infection. The emergency physician should be aware that weakness and fatigue caused by this illness may last for several weeks. [1]



For individuals who are planning to spend extended periods of time outside in endemic areas, the following precautions are appropriate:

  • Wear a long-sleeve shirt, and tuck the shirt into the pants

  • Tuck the pant legs into the socks

  • Wear light-colored clothing

  • Perform daily tick checks

  • Apply insect repellent such as DEET or permethrin [10]