Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Pinterest Connect on Google Plus Connect on YouTube

Ehrlichiosis

Go to the full list of diseases

Disease Details

Incubation Period:

  • 1 - 2 weeks

Transmission Type(s):

Disease Reservoirs

Disease Agents

About 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 chaffeensisEhrlichia 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.

Distribution

Ehrlichiosis is most frequently reported from the southeastern and south-central United States, from the eastern seaboard extending westward to Texas. The areas from which cases are reported correspond with the known geographic distribution of the lonestar tick (Amblyomma americanum), which is associated with transmission of both E. chaffeensis and E. ewingii. Three states (Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas) account for 30% of all reported E. chaffeensis infections. Occasionally, ehrlichiosis cases may be reported in other parts of the United States, including northern states where the lonestar tick is not commonly found. These cases may be due to patient travel to states with higher levels of disease, the presence of small populations of lonestar ticks outside commonly established areas, or the misdiagnosis of ehrlichiosis in patients actually infected with another tickborne disease, such as anaplasmosis or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Symptoms

Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. Usually, these symptoms occur within 1-2 weeks following a tick bite. Ehrlichios is diagnosed based on symptoms, clinical presentation, and later confirmed with specialized laboratory tests. The first line treatment for adults and children of all ages is doxycycline.  Ehrlichiosis and other tickborne diseases can be prevented.

Ehrlichiosis Prevention

While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, be extra vigilant in warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active.

Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks

  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails.

Repel Ticks with DEET or Permethrin

  • Use repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.
  • Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.
  • Other repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may be found at http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/.External Web Site Icon

Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body

  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
  • Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.
  • Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)

About the Header Image

Lone Star Tick (CDC)