It is an acute illness caused by a bite from an infected tick. It presents with fever, headache and mild conjunctivitis, often followed in a few days by a maculopapular rash which can include the palms and soles. The headache is the most striking symptom. With careful inspection of the skin and scalp, a typical red, raised bite with a black centre can be found. The local lymph nodes may be enlarged.
The incubation period is 10 days. Usually the bite occurs on one weekend and the illness starts on the following weekend. Infection commonly occurs in the country where cattle are present and carry infected ticks.
Tickbite fever presents with a severe headache.
Tickbite fever is caused by a Rickettsia organism. Tickbite fever may be serious, even fatal, in adults who may have many organs involved. The rash may be haemorrhagic and tender due to a vasculitis. Splenomegaly is common while a positive Weil-Felix test will confirm the clinical diagnosis. However, a negative test does not exclude the diagnosis.