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Colorado tick fever or Mountain tick fever is a viral infection (Coltivirus) transmitted from the bite of an infected Rocky Mountain wood tick, (Dermacentor andersoni). [1][2] Initial symptoms include fever, chills, and headaches.[3]There is no current treatment.[4]


Symptoms of Colorado tick fever include fever, chills, headaches, pain behind the eyes, light sensitivity, muscle pain, generalized malaise, abdominal pain, hepatosplenomegaly, nausea and vomiting, and a flat or pimply rash.[3]


Complications with this infection have included aseptic meningitis,as well as encephalitis.[4]


The virus particle, like other coltiviruses, is about 80 nanometers in diameter and is generally not enveloped. The double-stranded RNA viral genome is about 20 thousand base pairs long and is divided into 12 segments, which are termed Seg-1 to Seg-12. Viral replication in infected cells is associated with characteristic cytoplasmic granular matrices. [5]


The Rocky Mountain wood tick is usually found attached to a host, but when it is without a host, it hides in cracks and crevices, as well as soil. If for some reason the tick is not able to find a host before the winter, it will stay under groundcover until spring, when it can resume its search. The wood tick does not typically seek hosts in the hottest summer months. [6][7][8][9]


In terms of the diagnosis of Colorado tick fever we find that the healthcare worker will look for symptoms, history of living or traveling to where Colorado tick fever virus circulates and blood tests.[10]

Differential diagnosis

We find that the differential diagnosis for Colorado tick fever is as follows, Ehrlichiosis, Q Fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia.[11]


There is currently no vaccine. To avoid tick bites and infection, experts advise: avoiding tick-infested areas, especially during the warmer months, wear a long sleeved shirt, hat, long pants, and use of insect repellents containing DEET on skin or permethrin on clothing can be effective.[12][13]


No specific treatment for CTF is yet available. The first action is to make sure the tick is fully removed from the skin, then acetaminophen and analgesics can be used to help relieve the fever and pain.[10]


The disease develops from March to September, with the highest infections occurring in June.[4]The disease is found almost exclusively in the western United States and Canada, mostly in high mountain areas such as Colorado and Idaho.[14][15]


In 1943 Colorado tick fever was first isolated from a febrile individual at the Colorado Medical school.[16]


  1. Aldous JA, Nicholes PS. (1997). "What Is Mountain Fever?". Overland Journal. 15 (Spring): 18–23.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. RESERVED, INSERM US14-- ALL RIGHTS. "Orphanet: Colorado tick fever". Archived from the original on 23 August 2023. Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Colorado Tick Fever". 13 February 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2024.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Colorado tick fever". MedlinePlus. Archived from the original on 2017-06-25. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  5. Philipp CS, Callaway C, Chu MC, et al. (1 April 1993). "Replication of Colorado tick fever virus within human hematopoietic progenitor cells". J. Virol. 67 (4): 2389–95. doi:10.1128/JVI.67.4.2389-2395.1993. PMC 240408. PMID 8445735.
  6. Eisen, Lars; Ibarra-Juarez, Luis A.; Eisen, Rebecca J.; Piesman, Joseph (June 2008). "Indicators for elevated risk of human exposure to host-seeking adults of the Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni) in Colorado". Journal of Vector Ecology: Journal of the Society for Vector Ecology. 33 (1): 117–128. doi:10.3376/1081-1710(2008)33[117:iferoh];2. ISSN 1081-1710. PMID 18697314. S2CID 20648305. Archived from the original on 26 August 2023. Retrieved 23 August 2023.
  7. "Colorado Tick Fever: Background, Pathophysiology and Etiology, Epidemiology". Medscape. 26 April 2022. Archived from the original on 22 January 2019. Retrieved 28 August 2023.
  8. "CDC - DPDx - Ticks". 23 January 2019. Archived from the original on 18 March 2021. Retrieved 29 August 2023.
  9. Diaz, James H. (1 January 2015). "298 - Ticks, Including Tick Paralysis". Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases (Eighth Edition). W.B. Saunders. pp. 3266–3279.e1. ISBN 978-1-4557-4801-3.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Colorado Tick Fever: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment". Colorado Tick Fever Virus. 20 May 2024. Retrieved 4 July 2024.
  11. "Colorado Tick Fever Differential Diagnoses". Retrieved 8 July 2024.
  12. "Colorado Tick Fever - Symptoms, Causes, Treatment | NORD". Archived from the original on 24 June 2023. Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  13. "Prevention | Colorado Tick Fever | CDC". 26 February 2021. Archived from the original on 9 June 2023. Retrieved 25 August 2023.
  14. "Colorado Tick Fever". Archived from the original on 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
  15. Medicine, Institute of; Practice, Board on Population Health and Public Health; Science, Committee on Lyme Disease and Other Tick-Borne Diseases: The State of the (31 May 2011). Critical Needs and Gaps in Understanding Prevention, Amelioration, and Resolution of Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Diseases: The Short-Term and Long-Term Outcomes: Workshop Report. National Academies Press. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-309-21112-3. Archived from the original on 29 August 2023. Retrieved 28 August 2023.
  16. Harris, Emma K; Foy, Brian D; Ebel, Gregory D (14 November 2023). "Colorado tick fever virus: a review of historical literature and research emphasis for a modern era". Journal of Medical Entomology. 60 (6): 1214–1220. doi:10.1093/jme/tjad094.