Anaplasmosis is an infection caused by a bacterium called Anaplasma Phagocytophilum.

It can spread to people by a tick bite from an infected blacklegged tick. The tick usually needs to be attached and feeding on a person’s blood for at least 12 hours to pass on the infection.

In rare cases, anaplasmosis can be spread through getting a blood transfusion or organ transplant from a donor who has anaplasmosis, from direct contact with infected blood or by breathing in infected particles while butchering an infected animal.

Symptoms usually start within one to two weeks after getting bitten by an infected tick. Sometimes it can take as little as five days or as long as 21 days for symptoms to show up.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Very bad headache
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite or feeling less hungry than usual

In some cases, people may also get a rash, respiratory and nervous system problems.

Without treatment, the infection can last for one to two weeks. In some cases, people can have symptoms for up to 60 days. If anaplasmosis infection is not treated on time, or if a person has other health issues, it can lead to more serious illness such as bleeding problems, difficulty breathing, organ failure, and death.

People who live in, work in, travel to, or visit areas that are at-risk for blacklegged ticks have a higher risk of getting anaplasmosis.

Anaplasmosis can be more severe in people who:

  • Have another infection from a tick at the same time
  • Do not get timely treatment
  • Are elderly
  • Have a weakened immune system because of other health issues like cancer, HIV/AIDS, transplants, or from using certain medications

If you think you might be sick with anaplasmosis, talk to your health care provider about assessment and treatment options.

The best way to prevent anaplasmosis is to avoid tick bites.

How to avoid tick bites:

  • Wear long pants and long sleeves.
  • Light coloured clothing may make ticks easier to spot.
  • Apply insect repellent approved by Health Canada (Personal Insect repellents –, following the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Walk closer to the centre of trails avoiding brushy areas that may extend out on the trail edges.
  • After spending time outdoors in wooded or bushy areas, shower to remove ticks before they become attached.
  • Carefully check your full body and head for attached ticks.
  • If you find a tick on your body, remove it as soon as possible.
  • Remember to also check your children and pets for ticks.

Anaplasmosis is diagnosed by a blood test or other type of sample to check if you have the bacteria or have been exposed to the bacteria.

People with anaplasmosis are usually treated with an antibiotic called “doxycycline.” Talk to your health care provider about treatment options.