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Connecticut man talks about his bout with rare Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Connecticut man talks about his bout with rare Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Connecticut man talks about his bout with rare Rocky Mountain spotted fever 01:48

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Doctors say they're seeing more cases of a disease that's rare in this part of the country.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is usually seen in the Southeast and Southwest, but CBS New York spoke with a Connecticut man on Tuesday about his experience.

Like many here in the Northeast, KJ Kelly enjoyed the mild winter and tried to get out and explore as much as possible.

"I've been living in Stamford for 17 years," Kelly said.

But one day back in February, he found himself headed to Stamford Hospital with nasty, flu-like symptoms.

"I felt pretty bad. I was experiencing high fevers, like 104," Kelly said.

He spent nine days in the hospital, fearing the worst.

"They're looking at your brain, your heart. I mean, it was scary,'' Kelly said.

Eventually he was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a tickborne disease that is not common in the Northeast.

Cases of are not unheard of in Connecticut, but they are rare. Experts say just about two cases are reported per year.

"But I have to say that the incidence of Rocky Mountain spotted fever is actually increasing across the country," said Dr. Asha Shah, the director of infectious diseases at Stamford Health.

She said ticks like warmer weather, so no matter what part of the country you're in, families should take precautions to prevent all tickborne diseases.

"Especially if you're out and you go for a hike, it's good to check yourself for ticks. Take a shower. Check you kids for ticks. Check your dogs," Shah said.

"I felt fortunate that it was something that's not a chronic illness," Kelly said.

Kelly said likely came in contact with a tick when he and his family were out for a hike at a local nature preserve. He recovered quickly after getting the right medication.

It's a lesson he wants to drive home for others.

"Just kind of be aware that this is a risk that's present here now in the Northeast," Kelly said.

Experts say Rocky Mountain spotted fever can easily be treated with antibiotics, but it can be fatal if it goes untreated.

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