Health providers are warning the public about the presence of a bacterial infection seen in the Albany Capital region that is transmitted by the same vector that transmits Lyme disease and Babesia.
Infectious disease specialists in the Albany, NY area have reported seeing an increase in the tick-borne bacterial infection anaplasmosis, according to a Monday WNYT report.
According to Dr. Alan Sanders, “If i were to see a case or 2 a year it would be expected in the last decade and a half. And we’ve already seen 12 cases, just in about 4 or 5 weeks, so far.”
The organism that causes this disease is called Anaplasma phagocytophilum. It is an intracellular pathogen that is part of the Rickettsia (the same group of bacteria that cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever amongst other diseases) family.
Formerly known as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis, and as the former name of the disease implies, it’s an infection of the white blood cells.
People get this infection through the bite of an infected tick. Depending on the part of the United States you are, the tick species is different: the eastern part of the country is the black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis, and in the western part of the country, Ixodes pacificus, is usually involved.
These are deer ticks that are also involved in the transmission of Lyme disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 600-800 cases of anaplasmosis are reported to CDC each year. States reporting the highest incidence of anaplasmosis in 2006 were Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
The disease is also seen throughout other parts of North America, Europe and Asia.
After a period of a couple of days to a few weeks, most people infected with Anaplasma show influenza- like symptoms (fever, malaise, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and respiratory symptoms such as a cough). Symptoms tend to be more severe in those that are immunosuppressed and the elderly.
There are specific antibody tests against Anaplasma phagocytophilum that can be used in the diagnosis of anaplasmosis.
The treatment is doxycycline, the same antibiotic used to treat other related organisms.
To prevent an infection of anaplasmosis, take the normal precautions used to prevent any tick- borne disease; the use of DEET on clothing and exposed skin, the use of long sleeved shirts and tucking pants into the socks and avoiding areas where ticks are more likely found like grassy, brushy or wooded areas.