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Eight things you need to know about Anaplasmosis 04/25/2012

Posted by thetickthatbitme in Diagnosis, TBI Facts.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

A new fact sheet is up today for Anaplasmosis, otherwise known as Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection. Try saying that three times fast. This is one of the two TBIDs I’ve been unlucky enough to have, but I had never heard of it before my lab results came back with a positive antibody test for it. By the end of this post, you’ll know eight things you didn’t know before about Anaplasmosis.

A microcolony of A. phagocytophylum visible in a granulocyte (white blood cell) on a peripheral blood smear. Image via CDC.gov.

1. Anaplasmosis is spread by the same ticks that spread Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme Disease). This means that people with Lyme can have a coinfection with Anaplasmosis (and some of them don’t know it).

2. The symptoms of an Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection are: fever, headache, muscle pain, malaise, chills, nausea / abdominal pain, cough, and confusion. Some people get all the symptoms; other people only get a few.

3. If you show symptoms of Anaplasmosis, your doctor shouldn’t wait for lab results to come back to begin treating you. The CDC recommends beginning treatment right away.

4. If you’ve been infected with Anaplasma phagocytophilum and you get tested within the first 7-10 days you are sick, the test might come back negative. This doesn’t mean you don’t have Anaplasmosis, and you’ll need to be tested again later.

5. The best way to treat Anaplasmosis is with the antibiotic Doxycycline. According to the CDC, other antibiotics should not be substituted because they increase the risk of fatality. If your doctor insists on treating your Anaplasmosis with something other than Doxycycline, it’s probably time to get a new doctor. For people with severe allergies to Doxycycline or for women who are pregnant, the drug Rifampin can be used to treat Anaplasmosis.

6. Anaplasmosis can be confused with other TBIDs in the rickettsia family like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) and ehrlichiosis. These infections are also commonly treated with Doxycycline.

annual Anaplasmosis cases

Image via CDC.gov.

7. The number of cases of Anaplasmosis reported to the CDC has increased steadily since 1996. You can attribute this to climate change or not, but the trend suggests that this disease will be an increasingly more common problem in the future.

8. More than half of Anaplasmosis cases are reported in the spring and summer months. This is a no-brainer, since this is when tick populations thrive. To avoid infection, take steps to avoid tick exposure for both you and your pets.

Anaplasmosis by month

Image via CDC.gov.


1. Jon Nickerson - 04/26/2012

Is anaplasm treatable?

thetickthatbitme - 04/27/2012

Hi Jon. Yes, it’s treatable with Doxycycline (see #5 in post).

2. Karen Clausen - 11/03/2012

Is neurological difficulties a side effect of anaplasmosis or of Lyme disease. Memory issues or hand coordination problems. Thanks Karen

thetickthatbitme - 11/03/2012

Hi Karen, it’s my understanding (based on both CDC data and anecdotes I’ve heard from other patients) that cognitive symptoms (like memory issues) are more likely to be caused by Borrelia infections like Lyme disease and Tick-borne relapsing fever. The CDC lists “confusion” as a symptom of Anaplasmosis, but no other cognitive symptoms. Besides Lyme and TBRF, Babesia can also cause cognitive symptoms. If you’re trying to decide what to get tested for based on your symptoms, I’d suggest that get tested for all the tick-borne diseases–Lyme, Borrelia hermsii, and Babesia in particular.

3. Julie Hatleback - 05/20/2013

My husband was treated for Ehrlichiosis….he finished his pills …it has been 3 weeks now and he has the same symptoms….we called our doctor and he prescribed Doxy again for another 2 weeks…will this ever go away…..he works in the oil fields in N.D. and his friend is out there working too and he also has it…..they thought it was in the trailer that was provided for them on the job site…now my husband tells me his friend is coming down with it again too…can ehrlichiosis mimic another disease….thanks for your help.

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