Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is the general name used to describe several bacterial diseases that affect animals and humans. Human ehrlichiosisis a disease caused by at least three different ehrlichial species in the United States: Ehrlichia chaffeensis, Ehrlichia ewingii, and a third Ehrlichia species provisionally called Ehrlichia muris-like (EML). Ehrlichiae are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick. The lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) is the primary vector of both Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii in the United States.

The following ticks are known to transmit Ehrlichiosis in humans:

  • Lone Star Tick  (Amblyomma americanum)


Signs + Symptoms

Many people who are infected with Babesia microti feel fine and do not have any symptoms. Some people develop flu-like symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Malaise
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea / Vomiting / Diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Conjunctival injection (red eyes)
  • Rash (in up to 60% of children, less than 30% of adults)

Usually, these symptoms occur within 1-2 weeks following a tick bite. Ehrlichiosis is diagnosed based on symptoms, clinical presentation, and later confirmed with specialized laboratory tests. Ehrlichiosis is a serious illness that can be fatal if not treated correctly, even in previously healthy people. Severe clinical presentations may include difficulty breathing, or bleeding disorders. The estimated case fatality rate (i.e. the proportion of persons who die as a result of their infection) is 1.8%. Patients who are treated early may recover quickly on outpatient medication, while those who experience a more severe course may require intravenous antibiotics, prolonged hospitalization or intensive care.


Treatment

The first line treatment for adults and children of all ages is the same broad-spectrum antibiotic used to treat many tickborne illnesses, including Lyme disease: Doxycycline. Prophylactically taking doxycycline after being bitten by a Lone Star tick to prevent getting ehrlichiosis is NOT recommended.