1. What is Human Ehrlichiosis
Human Ehrlichiosis is an infection caused by the bacteria Ehrlichia. It is passed into the human bloodstream through the bite of an infected tick, such as lone star and deer ticks. However, it cannot be transmitted from one person to another. Ehrlichiosis cases have been found in the south-central and southeast regions in the United States. Incidents have also been reported in California, as well as in the mid-western and north-eastern states.
2. The types of Ehrlichiosis
There are commonly two types of Human Ehrlichiosis, namely Human Monocytic Ehrlichiosis (HME) and Human Granulocutic Ehrlichiosis (HGE), which are named according to the type of white blood cells they attack. The first type of Ehrlichiosis attacks the monocytes while the latter attacks the granulocytes.
3. The symptoms of the infection
Following a 5 to 10 day incubation period after the initial tick bite, the symptoms of Ehrlichiosis start to show. These commonly include high fever, headache, weakness, and aches in major muscles. Other symptoms include rash, nausea, vomiting, cough, and diarrhea. While most cases of Ehrlichia infection exhibit the aforementioned symptoms, some cases develop only very mild or no signs at all.
4. Find out about the diagnosis and treatment for such disease
Diagnosis of Human Ehrlichiosis starts with the visible signs of the infection following a tick bite. Certain laboratory and blood tests are also conducted to determine the presence of Ehrlichia bacteria, as well as low white blood cell count, low platelet count, and high level enzymes. The infection can be treated with antibiotics, particularly doxycycline. Rifampin is also used as an alternative treatment for those who are pregnant and those who are allergic to doxycycline.
5. Understand the complications of Ehrlichiosis
If this type of infection not diagnosed and treated immediately, Human Ehrlichiosis can result in serious conditions and complications as the bacteria spreads throughout the body. It can lead to very low white blood cell and platelet counts. Complications include seizures, severe pain in the joints, increased mental confusion, very high fever, and even kidney failure. Deaths are even reported in some cases.
6. Learn how to prevent Human Ehrlichiosis
To prevent being infected by this disease, it is very important to avoid tick bites. Besides, do stay away from tick-infested areas during peak months, especially, where there is a high concentration of Ehrlichiosis cases. When outdoors in woody, brushy areas, make sure you cover your body thoroughly by wearing a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, covered shoes or boots, and a hat. Apply insect repellent to exposed body parts, such as the hands and neck. These ticks are known to transmit the bacteria to your body if they remain stuck for at least 24 hours, so from time to time be sure to check for any ticks on your clothes and your body and remove promptly. Take a shower after spending time outdoors to make sure you immediately remove any ticks on your body.
Prevention is always better than a cure, so make sure to take extra precautions to avoid being infected by Ehrlichiosis and suffering from its complications.
Edited by: Xaivier Chia