Anaplasmosis - Another Tick Borne Disease
Anaplasmosis is a disease caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilium. This pathogen is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick. The black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) is the vector of A.phagocytophilum in the northeast.
The first symptoms of anaplasmosis typically begin within 1-2 weeks after the bite of an infected tick. A tick bite is usually painless, and some patients who develop anaplasmosis do not remember being bitten. The following is a list of symptoms commonly seen with this disease. However, it is important to note that few people with the disease will develop all symptoms, and the number and combination of symptoms varies greatly from person to person.
Anaplasmosis can be a serious illness that can be fatal if not treated correctly, even in previously healthy people. The severity of anaplasmosis may depend in part on the immune status of the patient.
Healthcare providers may find important information in the patient's history and physical examination that may aid clinical diagnosis. Information such as recent tick bites, exposure to areas where ticks are likely to be found, or history of recent travel to areas where anaplasmosis is endemic can be helpful in making the diagnosis. The healthcare provider should also look at routine blood tests, such as a complete blood cell count or a chemistry panel.
Doxycycline is the first line of treatment for adults and children of all ages and should be initiated immediately whenever anaplasmosis is suspected.
Prophylaxis (Preventive Treatment)
Antibiotic treatment following a tick bite is not recommended as a means to prevent anaplasmosis. There is no evidence this practice is effective, and this may simply delay onset of disease. Instead, persons who experience a tick bite should be alert for symptoms suggestive of tick borne illness and consult a physician if fever, rash, or other symptoms of concern develop.