Rocky mountain spotted fever hospitalizations among American Indians.


To describe the epidemiology of Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) among American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), we conducted a retrospective analysis of hospitalization records with an RMSF diagnosis using Indian Health Service (IHS) hospital discharge data for calendar years 1980-2003. A total of 261 RMSF hospitalizations were reported among AIs, for an average annual hospitalization rate of 1.21 per 100,000 persons; two deaths were reported (0.8%). Most hospitalizations (88.5%) occurred in the Southern Plains region, where the rate was 4.23 per 100,000 persons. Children 1-4 years of age had the highest age-specific hospitalization rate of 2.50 per 100,000 persons. The overall annual RMSF hospitalization rate declined during the study period. Understanding the epidemiology of RMSF among AI/ANs and educating IHS/tribal physicians on the diagnosis of tick-borne diseases remain important for the prompt treatment of RMSF and the reduction of the disease occurrence among AI/ANs, particularly in high-risk areas.