BLACK MOUNTAIN, N.C. — Federal health officials have confirmed a 6-year-old Buncombe County girl died as a result of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Doctors previously said Emilee Russell of Black Mountain was bitten by a tick over Memorial Day weekend while visiting family in Texas.
Russell reportedly died a couple days later at Louisiana State University Hospital.
According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, officials with the Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that Russell's death is the first confirmed fatality linked to the illness since 2009.
North Carolina had nearly 600 suspected cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in 2012, the paper reports.
Russell's father is a battalion chief at the Black Mountain Fire Department. The young girl also had a twin brother.