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Arizona health officials diagnose 2 cases of rare tick-borne disease

(Tucson Visitor Center Photo)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Health Services said two cases of a rare tick-borne disease similar to Rocky Mountain spotted fever have been diagnosed in the state.

Each person was bitten by ticks in mountainous areas of southern Arizona.

There have only been 40 cases of the disease (Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis) in the United States and has only been officially recognized since 2004.

The Arizona cases happened over the last two years.

Symptoms of the disease, which is less severe than Rocky Mountain spotted fever, include headache, joint and muscle pain, rash, fever and a dark scab at the site of the bite.

Health staffers advised wearing long sleeves and pants and using insect repellent when outdoors for an extended period.

If you find a tick on your body, remove it with tweezers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.