Among several pathogen carriers, ticks are the most significant carriers of the pathogens associated with a wide range of infections. Anaplasmosis is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum. It is formerly called as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis and a second-most common tick-borne disease.


Anaplasmosis is transmitted to the humans by tick bites mostly from the species of western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) and black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis). To spread the bacteria, the tick must be attached to a person for at least 12 to 24 hours. In rare conditions, anaplasmosis can be transmitted through the blood transfusions.

Protect yourself from black-legged tick bites

The anaplasmosis symptoms vary widely from person to person. The onset of symptoms is after one week of the tick bite. The most common symptoms of anaplasmosis are listed below:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Malaise
  • Chills
  • Nausea / Abdominal pain
  • Cough
  • Confusion
  • Change in mental status
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

Rarely rashes can also occur with anaplasmosis

If you suspect a tick bite, you must immediately contact a doctor for evaluation of infection and treatment. The diagnosis involves the following:

  • Physical examination
  • History of any exposure to black-legged ticks
  • Blood tests

Your doctor may also recommend blood smear test to determine the individual microcolonies of A. phagocytophilium in the blood. A polymerase chain reaction test is the only test that confirms the diagnosis.

The treatment should not be delayed if anaplasmosis is suspected, as it is one of the most deadly diseases. If it is not treated immediately after diagnosis, it may lead to fatal outcomes.

Doxycycline is considered to be the first-line therapy for anaplasmosis treatment. The use of other class of antibiotics is known to cause severe complications and may also result in rickettsial infections. So, the treatment should be based on the symptoms and should begin before confirming the diagnosis.

If the symptoms do not subside with doxycycline therapy, then your condition might not be due to anaplasmosis. In the case of pregnancy, doxycycline treatment for anaplasmosis may result in threatening allergies. Therefore, an alternative drug should be used. For that, rifampicin is considered to be the most effective drug for treating anaplasmosis in pregnant women.