California Woman Nearly Died After A Trip To A Pumpkin Patch, As She Contracted A Rare Tickborne Disease

Date September 17, 2018

California woman almost died from a rare infection after she got bitten by a tick

Jennifer Hernandez, a young woman from California, went to a pumpkin patch with her family. Shortly after they returned home, Jennifer started to feel unwell. She also developed an unexplained rash.

Doctors diagnosed Jennifer with Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a rare tickborne bacterial infection. Fortunately, the young woman received timely treatment with antibiotics and survived.

Two years after her ordeal, Jennifer took to Facebook to urge others to protect themselves from ticks. As she explained in her post, she was wearing flip-flops at the pumpkin field, which made it easy for the infected tick to bite her.

The woman hopes her warning can help others realize how dangerous tick bites can be.

READ ALSO: Be Aware Of A Summer "Tick Explosion": 4 Easy And Effective Tips To Keep Yourself Safe

Tickborne diseases are on the rise in the United States

Ticks are tiny bloodsucking insects, but the harm they can cause is huge. Although not every tick is infected, many of them carry bacteria, parasites, and viruses that can lead to serious illness in humans.

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Ticks are best known for carrying bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Other, lesser-known diseases spread by ticks include Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, and tularemia.

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According to the CDC, more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported in the U.S. every year. It’s most commonly reported in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest.

Even if you live in a different region, it’s important to learn how tickborne diseases manifest and how to protect yourself from ticks.

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READ ALSO: Lyme Disease: Symptoms, Prevention, And Complications

Symptoms and potential complications of Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is uncommon, but it’s better to know its symptoms, especially if you live in the Southeast.

According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of RMSF are often non-specific and may include the following:

  • high fever;
  • chills;
  • severe headache;
  • muscle aches;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • confusion.


A distinctive rash, which usually first starts to show on the wrists and ankles and may spread up the legs and arms and down to the palms and soles, is the hallmark symptom of RMSF which may help doctors diagnose it correctly. However, some infected people don’t develop a rash.

RMSF may cause serious complications, including:

  • encephalitis (inflammation of the brain);
  • inflammation of the heart and lungs;
  • kidney failure;
  • tissue death in extremities and amputation.

Without timely treatment, RMSF is fatal in about 80% of cases.

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How to lower your risk of tick bites

To protect yourself from tick bites and lower your risk of developing Lyme disease, RMSF, and other tickborne diseases, the following can help:

1. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts in wooded and grassy areas, and try to avoid long grass and bushes.

2. Use EPA-registered insect repellents. Apply them strictly according to instructions.

3. Use permethrin-containing products on clothing and gear for more protection.

4. Protect dogs and other furry pets with tick collars. Inspect the animal’s body for ticks after spending time outdoors.

5. Check your whole body for ticks using a mirror. Check your children, too.

6. Take a shower or bath right after you come home from outings.

7. If a tick did bite you (or your child or pet), remove it carefully with clean tweezers, as the CDC instructs. Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet or soaking it in alcohol. If you live in one of the areas where tickborne diseases have been reported, it’s best to put the tick in a sealed container to save it for testing.

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If you need more info, get it from reliable sources such as the CDC. Stay safe!

READ ALSO: Warning To Parents: 5-Year-Old Got A Dangerous Disease After A Tick Bite, And His Mom Took To Facebook To Spread Awareness

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.