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Anaplasmosis/Ehrlichiosis

Department of Health
Kari Reiber, MD, Acting Commissioner



  • What is Anaplasmosis/ Ehrlichiosis?

  • Anaplasosis/Ehrlichiosis is a tick-borne disease caused by a bacteria . The first human case in the U.S. was reported in 1986, in a man exposed to ticks in Arkansas. In New York State, most cases of anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis have been diagnosed in Westchester County and the lower Hudson Valley.




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  • Who gets Anaplasmosis/Ehrlichiosis?

  • Anyone can get anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis, although the majority of known cases have been in adults. People who spend time outdoors in tick infested areas from April until October are at greatest risk for exposure.




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  • How is the disease spread?

  • As with Lyme disease, anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis is  spread by ticks, primarily the deer tick,  and the lone star tick. Transmission occurs after a bite from an infected tick. Anaplasmosis/Ehrlichiosis cannot be spread from person to person.




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  • What are the symptoms of Anaplasmosis/Ehrlichiosis?

  • The most common symptoms are fever, muscle aches, weakness and headache. Patients may also experience confusion, nausea, vomiting and joint pain. Unlike Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a rash is not common. Infection usually produces mild to moderately severe illness, with high fever and headache, but may occasionally be life-threatening or even fatal.




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  • When do symptoms appear?

  • The incubation period is usually one to three weeks after exposure to an infected tick. However, not every exposure results in infection.




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  • How is Anaplasmosis/ Ehrlichiosis diagnosed?

  • Blood tests can detect  infection with the bacteria. Other laboratory findings may include low white blood cellcount, low platelet count and abnormal liver enzyme tests. The diagnosis of anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis should also be made based on clinical symptoms and a history of exposure to ticks.




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  • What is the treatment?

  • Tetracycline antibiotics are usually rapidly effective for anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis. Because these antibiotics can cause dental staining in children, physicians should consult an infectious disease expert when treating children.




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  • How can I prevent Anaplasmosis/Ehrlichiosis?

  • As with Lyme disease, avoiding tick bites will prevent Anaplasmosis/Ehrlichiosis. When working or playing outdoors in tick infested areas: Wear light colored clothing and tuck pants into socks, tuck shirt into pants: Apply repellents containing DEET to exposed skin and clothing: Use repellents sparingly and avoid prolonged or excessive applications, especially in children: Check clothes and body surfaces carefully after being outdoors, especially in tick infested areas.




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  • How should a tick be removed?

  • Remove the tick as soon as possible. Use tweezers, grab the tick's mouth parts close to the skin and pull it straight out. Do not squeeze the tick's body when removing it and do not handle the tick with bare hands. If the tick is not completely removed, keep site clean and the body will dispose of it as it would a splinter. If you would like the tick to be identifed, you may contact the Dutchess County Cornell Cooperative Extension at 845-677-8223 or go to their website: http://www.ccedutchess.org/





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  • Where can I find more updated information about Anaplasmosis/Ehrlichiosis?

  • See Tick-Borne Diseases in the Hudson Valley - A Physician's Reference Manual (.pdf)
    - or -

    Click Here to find out more information.




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Kari Reiber, MD,Acting Commissioner Kari Reiber, MD
Acting Commissioner
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