Anaplasmosis & Ticks in New England

Also known as human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), anaplasmosis is a bacterial infection spread by ticks. In the eastern part of the United States, the disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected black-legged tick. Commonly referred to as deer ticks, black-legged ticks live in wooded and grassy areas, making the likelihood of contracting anaplasmosis greater for individuals who regularly spend time in these types of settings. Geographically, anaplasmosis occurs most frequently in the Upper Midwest and Northeast regions of the country. In fact, every New England state except Massachusetts ranks among the top states for reported cases of the disease nationwide.

Symptoms of Anaplasmosis

Infected deer ticks spread anaplasmosis by biting a host animal and causing the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilium to enter the bloodstream. The first symptoms usually appear within a week or two of the bite.

Symptoms of anaplasmosis include

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle Aches
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Cough
  • General Malaise

In rare instances, a rash may develop. Anaplasmosis symptoms vary depending on the person and typically dissipate after one to two weeks. In less than 1% of anaplasmosis cases, however, the infection results in fatality.

Treating Anaplasmosis

Most reported cases of anaplasmosis occur during the summer, peaking in June and July, when black-legged ticks are highly active. Statistically, anaplasmosis incidence rates are higher in men and people older than 40. Individuals with compromised immune systems are also at greater risk of contracting the tick-borne infection. Treating anaplasmosis usually involves prescription antibiotics. While a full recovery is sometimes possible without medical assistance, early treatment helps prevent more serious issues from arising as a result of the disease.

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