For those who doesn’t know much about it or doesn’t work in health care centres, the disease anaplasmosis may sound so odd. But in reality, it’s the second (after Lyme disease) most common tick-borne illness affecting our region today. Anaplasmosis is a disease caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum. These bacteria are spread to people by tick bites primarily from the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) and the western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus).
However, one can get anaplasmosis, Lyme disease, as well as a handful of less common tick-borne diseases from the same bite. Because of the tick life cycle, the number of tick bites peaks in May and June and again in late October and November each year. Meanwhile, people with anaplasmosis will often have fever, headache, chills, enlarged lymph nodes and muscle aches. Drug such as doxycycline is the drug of choice for adults and children of all ages suffering from such disease. Below are some useful tips to protect against anaplasmosis and other tick-borne diseases:
- Avoid getting bitten by a tick in the first place. One of the most effective ways to prevent tick bites is to treat your clothing with permethrin, which both repels and kills ticks. It is very effective against tick bites and poses no threat to humans. Permethrin can also be used around your yard in the form of tick-control tubes.
- Keep the ticks that found you from biting you. Always change clothes when you come inside. Wash them in hot water and tumble dry. If possible, bathe or shower within two hours of coming indoors as well. Conduct a thorough tick check. Check yourself, have a family member check your back and other areas that are difficult to see and check your children carefully.
- Remove ticks that have bitten you immediately. Use pointy tweezers or pincer to remove it. Grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight upwards. Avoid using any lubricants or hot objects instead disinfect the area infected with alcohol or other disinfectant.
- Know the symptoms and seek treatment immediately. Understand that not all ticks are infected, so being bitten does not guarantee that you will get a tick-borne illness. It’s also important to know the symptoms and watch for them as symptoms of Lyme and anaplasmosis are similar.
If you do notice symptoms, see your doctor right away. Always have in mind that the time between infection and treatment can make a difference in how long symptoms last.