Anaplasmosis

Blacklegged Tick

Anaplasmosis is a tickborne disease caused the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum. It is spread by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks, the same tick that transmits Lyme disease, babesiosis, Borrelia miyamotoi disease and Powassan virus. It is also possible for Anaplasma phagocytophilium to be transmitted through blood transfusions and organ transplants.

Anaplasmosis is the second most common tickborne disease in Vermont. In the last five years, the number of reported anaplasmosis cases has increased substantially. Since 2015, Vermont has had the highest annual incidence of anaplasmosis in the U.S.

The best way to prevent anaplasmosis is to prevent tick bites. If you find a tick on your body, remove it quickly to reduce the risk of anaplasmosis and other tickborne diseases. See a health care provider if you get sick. Anaplasmosis is curable but it can be a serious and sometimes fatal disease.

Symptoms

Symptoms of anaplasmosis usually begin five to 21 days after a tick bite and can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Malaise
  • Muscle pain
  • Cough
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Unlike Lyme disease, anaplasmosis does not commonly cause a rash. In fact, only 9% of Vermonters with anaplasmosis report having a rash. The most common symptoms reported in Vermont residents with anaplasmosis include fever, malaise, muscle aches, chills and headaches.

People with anaplasmosis may also develop anemia, low white blood cell counts, low platelet counts, and elevated liver enzymes.

Anaplasmosis can be a serious illness. Thirty-six percent of cases in Vermont are hospitalized for their illness. If not detected and treated promptly, anaplasmosis can be fatal in older patients and people with other health problems.

Who is at risk in Vermont?

Anyone can get anaplasmosis, but older individuals and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk. In Vermont, anaplasmosis affects older individuals and males more commonly than females.

Trends over time

Anaplasmosis has been reported more frequently in Vermont. During 2008-2010, three or fewer cases were reported each year. Case counts have increased each year since 2011, with the highest number of cases reported in 2017.

When are Vermonters at risk for Anaplasmosis?

Like Lyme disease, the risk for contracting anaplasmosis is highest during summer months. However, unlike Lyme disease, the risk for anaplasmosis increases again in the autumn.

Where in Vermont are people at risk?

While people can get become sick with anaplasmosis anywhere in the state, cases are most commonly reported from southern counties. Over 30% of cases are reported from Bennington County.

Diagnosis

Anaplasmosis can only be diagnosed by a healthcare provider. The symptoms of anaplasmosis can be non-specific and vary from person-to-person, making it difficult to recognize, but blood tests can help with diagnosis. If your healthcare provider suspects anaplasmosis or another tickborne infection, they may prescribe antibiotics while you wait for results.

To learn more about diagnosing anaplasmosis, please visit the CDC website.

Treatment

Anaplasmosis can be treated with antibiotics. Early treatment is important for avoiding more severe complications from anaplasmosis. Doxycycline is the recommended antibiotic treatment for anaplasmosis in adults and children of all ages.

To learn more about the treatment for anaplasmosis, please visit the CDC website.