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Three Cases Of Spotted Fever Diagnosed

August 6, 1985

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Three girls contracted tick-borne Rocky Mountain spotted fever after visiting a camp, and all remained hospitalized today, one in critical condition, officials said.

Health officials said tall grass had been cut to keep ticks away at the camp near Downington. Counselors have started a program to check children for ticks, whose bites transmit the sometimes fatal disease.

″We had 11 cases (in Pennsylvania) last year,″ said Bobby Jones, a state epidemiologist, ″so this is not totally unusual.″ But he expressed concern that the three cases arose in one place. ″It suggests that others can be exposed in the same general area.″

An 8-year-old girl from Phoenixville, admitted Sunday to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children with the disease, was in critical condition today, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

A 16-year-old from Bellmawr, N.J., admitted five days ago in critical condition, has shown improvement and was in serious condition, officials said.

A 12-year-old girl, apparently treated before the other two at Roxborough Memorial Hospital, was in satisfactory condition today, said nursing supervisor Marie Cybulski.

Names of the patients were not released.

″Treatment is available if the disease is diagnosed early. It responds very well to tetracycline,″ said Dr. Catherine Foley, a pediatric neurologist at St. Christopher’s. ″If it is not caught until later, stronger antibiotics are needed, and there is a significant mortality rate.″

The symptoms begin with a high fever, sometimes between 103 and 105 degrees. The disease is often associated with a headache, upset stomach and muscle achiness.

By the third day of illness, a patient develops a rash on the wrists and ankles that initially looks like measles and spreads to the trunk and out to the palms and soles of the feet, Jones said.

In serious, untreated cases, the mortality rate ranges from 10 to 30 percent, he said. Children and the elderly are especially threatened.

Foley said people who must go into wooded areas should wear protective clothing, use insect repellent and inspect themselves for ticks.

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