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Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by infection with the organism Rickettsia rickettsii. Ticks carrying R. rickettsii are the most common source of infection. If an infected tick attaches itself to your skin and feeds on your blood, you may pick up the infection. It's also possible — but unusual — to catch Rocky Mountain spotted fever when blood from an infected tick gets into broken skin or comes in contact with the mucous membrane in your mouth, nose or eyes.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever primarily occurs when ticks are most active and during warm weather when people tend to spend more time outdoors. Rocky Mountain spotted fever cannot be spread from person to person.

Sep. 10, 2011