Tick fever is caused by the bacteria Anaplasma phagocytophilum and is spread by ticks. Most cases are found on the Eastern and Western seaboards and surrounding states. Symptoms include headaches and chills, high grade fever and muscle aches as well as a rash around the bite site. These symptoms are commonly confused with those of the flu. Symptoms can be seen within 3 weeks of the tick bite, but can start as soon as 5 days after transmission. The symptoms in most people are not severe, except in cases of the elderly and immunosuppressed persons.
Other symptoms that are not seen as often include hemorrhages, renal failure and confusion once the infection has proceeded. If treatment is not sought, life threatening symptoms can cause more serious problems from fever, traveling infection and malaise. Anaplasmosis symptoms can be life threatening if left untreated, but are generally mild for most patients. Many people who become infected have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms.
Treatment of Tick Fever
Treatment is conducted using tetracycline antibiotics for 14 days in children and adults. The drug doxycycline is normally used for its potency and also for its efficacy. There is a vaccine for tick fever that was created in 1999. This vaccine is for those who are avid outdoors types, those in high risk areas including wooded areas and those living near forests or rural areas. People in these areas should consult with their health care provider about the vaccine.
Left: Blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis
Complications from Symptoms
There are possible complications due to anaplasmosis, including sepsis or the infection of blood or tissues, and the infection can damage the lungs, heart, nerves and kidneys if left untreated for an extended period of time. Infections can travel from one part of the body to another, and therefore are moved in the bloodstream. The blood can become infected, which presents a life threatening situation that should be treated immediately.
Resources and Credits
Photo Credit: Public Library of Science (PLoS). (CC) Some rights reserved.