Pediatric Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Aug 14, 2018
  • Author: Nicholas John Bennett, MBBCh, PhD, MA(Cantab), FAAP; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Diagnostic Considerations

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a life-threatening disease. Therefore, it is important to consider the possibility of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in any patient whose clinical presentation is consistent with the disease. Clinicians should have a low threshold for treatment if Rocky Mountain spotted fever is clinically suspected.

Signs and symptoms can mimic those of other diseases. Therefore, a history of traveling to endemic areas, having tick bites, or having exposures to ticks is an important clue. Absence of a history of tick bites should not exclude the diagnosis if the index of clinical suspicion is high.

Other problems to be considered in the differential diagnosis of Rocky Mountain spotted fever include the following:

  • Typhoid fever

  • Atypical measles

  • Hypersensitivity reactions to drugs

  • Murine typhus

  • Rickettsial pox

  • Meningococcemia

Differential Diagnoses