Child's death from spotted fever is state's first

A young child from Dakota County died this month from Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The Minnesota Department of Health says the patient is the state's first known fatality from the bacteria.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is carried by the Rocky Mountain wood tick, the brown dog tick and the American dog tick.

Epidemiologist Melissa Kemperman says about 2,000 cases are reported annually in other parts of the country, but the disease is very rare in Minnesota.

"We've had very sporadic cases in Minnesota over the years. Many, although not all of those cases, had reported travel to other states," she said. So we do know that it's a very, very slight risk here in Minnesota."

The Health Department has also confirmed 2 cases of Powassan encephalitis, another rare tick-borne infection, in a child and an adult from Cass County. Both individuals are still recovering from severe neurological symptoms. The virus is carried by the deer tick.

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