Rocky Mountain spotted fever damages the lining of your smallest blood vessels, causing the vessels to leak or form clots. This can harm your:

  • Brain. In addition to severe headaches, Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause lethargy, confusion, seizures and delirium.
  • Heart and lungs. Problems with the blood vessels that serve the heart and lungs can interfere with how well these organs function. In severe cases, heart failure or lung failure can occur.
  • Kidneys. Kidneys filter waste from your blood, and the blood vessels within the kidneys are very small and fragile. Damage to these vessels can eventually result in kidney failure and death.
  • Fingers and toes. Some of your smallest blood vessels are in your fingers and toes. If these vessels don't work properly, the tissue at your farthest extremities may develop gangrene and die. Amputation would then be necessary.
Sep. 10, 2011

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