Anaplasmosis researcher in ChinaStocks of Chinese drugmakers rose to four-month highs recently after reports that a tick-borne disease, human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), has claimed 18 lives in China's central Henan province. Henan is a long way from the Northeast U.S., but anytime a tick-borne disease makes news, it raises concerns in such areas.

Could anaplasmosis, which is caused by the Anaplasma phagocytophilum bacterium, spread from China to be the next Lyme disease in the U.S.? After all, both diseases are transmitted by ticks -- small arachnids that live in wooded areas, brushy fields and around the home, and survive by feeding on the blood of the host.

Turns out it found a home a while ago in the U.S. "Anaplasmosis is a disease that is already endemic in some parts of the U.S., particularly the Northeast and upper Midwest," says Dr. Joanna Regan, a medical epidemiologist at a branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, "more research is needed to assess whether strains of A. phagocytophilum circulating in the U.S. are different from strains currently found in China," she adds.

"In the U.S., the tick responsible for transmission of A. phagocytophilum in the upper Midwest and Northeast is the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis). Along the West Coast, the western black-legged tick (I. pacificus) may transmit the organism," Regan explains. States reporting the highest incidence of anaplasmosis in 2008 were Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York (upstate).

Humans and Ticks Get Closer

Anaplasmosis and Lyme disease, named after the town of Lyme, Conn., where it was first identified in 1975, are transmitted by the same ticks. Lyme disease is by far most likely to afflict people in the Northeast, although it has spread more widely and is the most common tick-borne disease reported in the U.S. The Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, normally lives in mice, squirrels and other small animals. It's transmitted among these animals -- and to humans -- through the bites of certain species of ticks.

Greater tick densities and encroachment of human development into rural and suburban areas explain the increase in cases of Lyme disease in states with high incidence, such as Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Geographic expansion of the ticks explains the rise in cases in states such as Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Most likely, the same dynamics are at play with the spread of anaplasmosis in China.


The two diseases differ in their symptoms. The first symptom of Lyme disease after the poppy-seed-size tick makes its bite, is usually a bulls-eye-shaped rash in the area of the bite. The rash is followed by flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache and fatigue. If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to recurrent attacks of painful and swollen joints, numbness in the limbs and heart problems because the infection can spread to joints, nervous system and heart.

With anaplasmosis, the majority of people infected experience nonspecific symptoms five days to three weeks after the tick bite, such as headaches, fever and chills that can be confused with common diseases such as influenza. Some individuals who become infected don't become ill or experience only very mild symptoms and don't seek medical treatment.

While anaplasmosis has a high incidence rate among those age 60-plus, Lyme disease is observed disproportionately in children and in young males compared with other demographic groups.

Anaplasmosis Is Rarely Fatal

Luckily, both infections can usually be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics, particularly doxycycline, according to guidelines developed by the Infectious Disease Society of America. But forgoing or delaying treatment for anaplasmosis can lead to serious, even fatal complications, the CDC says. And because anaplasmosis causes symptoms that are similar to other, less-severe diseases, many people don't receive prompt treatment for it.

While deaths have been reported from anaplasmosis in the U.S., Regan says such fatalities are "uncommon and represent less than 1% of known cases." She adds: "Persons who are of older age and who are immunocompromised are at increased risk for severe infection."

And as if this isn't disturbing enough, Regan notes that in the U.S. "there are already several tick-borne diseases that can cause severe or fatal human illness, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever (caused by Rickettsia rickettsii), ehrlichoisis (caused by Ehrlichia chaffeensis) and anaplasmosis, among others. Physicians practicing in areas where these diseases may occur should maintain a high degree of vigilance when treating patients who have symptoms compatible with tick-borne diseases, and should prescribe doxycycline as the treatment of choice in persons of all ages."

Either way, everyone agrees that the best defense against Lyme disease -- and anaplasmosis -- is by reducing exposure, using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, landscaping and integrated pest management.

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walking dead

WHO WANTS THE TICK SYPHILIS ? AND REMEMBER MD'S LOVE TO TREAT THE SYMPTOMS BECAUSE THERE'S NO MONEY IN THE CURE!!! 76 SYMPTOMS 2-4OZ OF WHITE OR CIDER VINEGAR EVERY DAY MAKES YOUR BLOOD MORE ACIDIC

June 28 2012 at 12:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hello Highness

P.S. Anyone with lyme or lyme related concerns not being addressed by their pcp (as is usually the case)or denied treatment can go to the ILASD website to find a local lyme literate dr. who can correctly diagnose and treat lyme and its coinfections.

September 24 2010 at 9:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hello Highness

This article continues to perputrate the myth that lyme and/or coinfections "luckily are curable with a few weeks of antibiotics" The movie "under our skin" busts that myth wide open and makes fools out of the isda docters and the guidelines that the insurance companies are paying them hundreds of thousands of dollars to write. I reccomend that anyone living or visiting areas endemic to lyme watch it or visit ILADS.com for accurate information about tick bourne diseases.

September 24 2010 at 8:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
trollking111

THE TICK IS VERY SMALL, TO GET MORE INFO ON ID ING IT GO TO YOUR LOCAL, STATE D E C. WEB SITE. IT IS CALLD THE DEER TICK. THAY CARRY IT MOSTLY. ON LONG ISLAND AND LOWER NY. IS THE MOST PLEAGED PLACES. I SPEND A LOT OF TIME FISHING AND HUNTING.I DEAL WITH THEM ALL THE TIME....YOU GET THEM JUST BY BRUSHING AGENST BUSHES AND BRANCHES.THE WARMER IT IS THE MORE TICKS YOU WILL PICK UP....KIDS PLAYING IN GRASS AND YARDS WILL PICK THEM UP EASY...CHECK CLOSE AND BODY WELL 2 TIMES AFTER WALKING.....................AND BEING OUT IN THE BRUSH OR DOING YARD WORK.--DEFCON SPRAY WILL KILL AND KEEP THEM FROM TRAVAELING ON YOU.

September 24 2010 at 4:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Julie Danielson

I had lyme disease 18 years ago. I was on vacation, got bit by a tick, and 3 weeks later broke out in a bulls eye rash, it started on both my legs, and then down my arms, I went to the doctor when I noticed the rash, he put me on medication, and It took 6 months for me to get better, I went through severe pain in my joints, and numbness in my legs, I was given injections, along with medications, and after 6 months of treatment, I was better. Its been 18 years, and I havent had any more trouble, you just have to get treated right away, I know a friend of my sisters got lyme disease, and they couldnt find out what was wrong with her, she developed no rash, and she ended up in a wheel chair, it has been 3 years and they are just now treating her for lyme disease. Its to bad the doctors cant find out what they have before getting to that point. or worse.

September 24 2010 at 1:25 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Julie Danielson's comment
shellspink

Do not take Fluoroquinolones.... search the "toxicity of Fluoroquinolones" Cipro(Ciprofloxacin), Levaquin(Levofloxacin), Avelox(Moxifloxacin), Vigamox, these will make things worse, esp if given w/ a steroid.

September 24 2010 at 2:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
justmecreek

My son contacted Ehrlichiosis and almost died this July from a tick bite. Liver failure, kidney failure, swollen spleen, HIGH fevers, vomiting. He ended up on o2 and I.V. nutrition. He is a typical kid and has been bitten by ticks numerous times and had never been sick. Please people check your children for tick bites and be vigilant in treating areas your children and animals play. I never dreamed a tick bite could be so dangerous.

September 24 2010 at 1:25 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bluedodge47

A year and a half ago I went to the emergency room with the symptoms of lyme's and a severe pain where I was bitten. Passed out from the pain and when I woke up found my hand swollen like a rattlesnake bite. A staph infection developed at the bite. Lucky me, lymes and staph infection. Was put on ammoxacillian for both, 800mg every 4 hours for a month AND 2 operations on my hand to relieve pressure of crush nerve damage and help circulation. After that, 6 mths of rehab to get my hand back to 60% usage. Hand now has Rynauds syndrone, when it's chilly my hand turns blue and feels frozen. No health care. Cost of tick bite....$132,000...!!!

September 24 2010 at 1:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bluedodge47's comment
walking dead

welcome to my world TICK SYPHILIS Lyme spirochetes climbed into my blood stream,through my teeth, every morning 2-3am my feet would swell and bleed, my right eye wouldn't focus for days and the noise in my head would keep me from hearing everything except a jet! plus 27 other symptoms! "Canlyme.com" 5months of dyoxine helped, just wait for them to reproduce spores in your panecreaus now their feeding off your engine! type 1-2 diabetes heart disease any cancer! find this book "the silent Saboteurs"

June 28 2012 at 12:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Bushes

I work for a client that has lyme disease. She is completely bed ridden and can not care for herself at all. She was bite about 25 years ago and all doctors for many years would blow her off, always saying she has MS, fiber mialga, etc. Now that she has full blown lymes and nothing can be done about it, we learn more. She tells me all the time keep salt in your system. Tick born illnesses don't like salt and will be least likely to live in someone that eats salt regularly. Hymalayn salt is the best for you, pink salt.

September 24 2010 at 1:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to The Bushes's comment
mardds

What color pepper? please don't post idiotic comments like these, i can delay someone from getting the help they need

September 24 2010 at 3:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
reel005

A MORE EFFECTIVE TREATMENT FOR LYME DISEASE AND OTHER VECTOR BORNE DISEASES IS A SPRAY CALLED PROMETHIUM (I THINK THAT MAY BE THE SPELLING). THE SPRAY IS ADMINISTERED TO OUTER GARMENTS, AND INSIDE THE INSEAMS OF CLOTHING. THE DRAWBACK IS THAT THE CLOTHES YOU SPRAY MUST BE AIRED OUT FOR AT LEAST 5 DAYS. THE SPRAY IS QUITE POISONOUS, AND COULD CAUSE SERIOUS RESPIRATORY PROBLEMS. ALSO IT IS PRIMARILY GIVEN TO SOLDIERS WHO ARE GOING OVERSEAS. ONCE THE SPRAY DRIES, IT PROVIDES A BARRIER AGAINST TICKS AND FLEAS, IN PARTICULAR.

September 24 2010 at 12:28 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to reel005's comment
Hello Highness

The spray is premetherin (not to be confused with spray with a similar sounding name made from crysanthemems...any spray with premetherin such as repel brand are not only a repellent but actually kill the tick on contact.its what the army uses and once they beganits use the incidence of lyme went down to 0 for the soldiers who use it. And clothing and gear only need to dry a few hours.not days before use and it remains effective for up to 10 days. it also lasts through a washing. your best line of defense when you have to be in these areas but DON'T USE ON ANIMALS! spray all clothing and shoes outside and inside pants up to the knee and let dry a few hours. to prolong the effectivness store the clothing in a plastic bag.

September 24 2010 at 9:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
voightvision

I never found a bullseye, nor was I looking for one at that point, but 4-5 days after the flu-like symptoms started (without the upset stomach part), which was about two weeks after the estimated time of the tick bite, I started getting red blotches all over my abdomen which then progressed to my back and finally from my neck to my toes. I then realized this was serious (not flu!) and I was 600 miles away from home and my family doctor. I got them on the cellphone and returned home as quickly as possible for treatment. I hope this will help someone else in the future and once again, I am very thankful for the tests and correct diagnosis of my condition from our family doctor, which is critical in treating Lyme Disease. This simple to get disease is very unpleasant but caught early is quickly curable.

September 24 2010 at 12:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply