Although the number of confirmed cases of spotted fever has been declining in Brazil since 2005, the mortality rate (20% to 30%) is still high in comparison to other countries. This high mortality rate is closely related to the difficulty in making the diagnosis and starting the correct treatment. Only two groups of antibiotics have proven clinical effectiveness against spotted fever: chloramphenicol and tetracyclines. Until recently, the use of tetracyclines was restricted to adults because of the associated bone and tooth changes in children. Recently, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics and various researchers have recommended the use of doxycycline in children. In more severe cases, chloramphenicol injections are often preferred in Brazil because of the lack of experience with injectable tetracycline. Since early diagnosis and the adequate drug treatment are key to a good prognosis, health care professionals must be better prepared to recognize and treat spotted fever.
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