Relapsing fever

Relapsing fever is an infectious disease that can be passed to humans by ticks. Relapsing fever is most common in the western United States.

Symptoms usually start 3 to 11 days (average 6 days) after the tick bite. They may last for several days, go away, and then return (relapse) several days later. Symptoms of relapsing fever include:

  • High fever that begins suddenly.
  • Headache, often severe.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Muscle aches (myalgia).
  • Abdominal pain.
  • General feeling of illness (malaise).
  • Rash (up to 50% of cases).

Prescription medicine is used to treat relapsing fever.

Last Updated: January 13, 2010

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: Martin Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Sean P. Bush - Emergency Medicine, Envenomation Specialist & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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