Emergence of Tickborne Disease in CNY

Twice as Many Cases of Anaplasmosis in 2021 than Previous 5-Year Total

Onondaga County Health Commissioner, Dr. Indu Gupta, announced the emergence of anaplasmosis, a tickborne disease that is typically rare in Central New York. In the previous 5 years, a total of 3 cases were reported in Onondaga County; so far this year, there have been 6 reported cases.

Anaplasmosis is caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and is primarily spread to people by the bite of an infected tick. Dr. Gupta explained, “In New York state, the disease is spread by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis), which is the same type of tick that typically spreads Lyme disease. If we are diligent in practicing the same prevention measures we’ve learned to prevent Lyme disease, we are protecting ourselves from other tickborne diseases including anaplasmosis.”

Symptoms and Treatment
The symptoms of anaplasmosis begin within 1–2 weeks after the bite of an infected tick, and include fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If treatment is delayed, or if there are other medical conditions present, anaplasmosis can cause severe illness, and even death in rare cases. Prompt treatment can reduce your risk of developing severe illness.

See your healthcare provider if you become ill after being bitten by a tick or spending time in the woods or in areas with high brush where ticks commonly live.

Personal Protection Measures
There are steps everyone should take to protect themselves from both mosquito and tick bites during outdoor activities:

  • Wear shoes, light-colored socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck in your shirt and tuck pant legs into boots or socks. Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. 
  • Consider using insect repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and other products that have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Use this EPA search tool to help you choose the repellent product that is right for you, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on proper use for safety and effectiveness. Insect repellents should be applied only to intact skin or over clothing. Do NOT apply DEET or Picaridin directly onto children’s skin (apply to your own hands and then put it on the child). Repellent should not be used on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.

Check for and Remove Ticks
After outdoor activities, it is critical to check your body for an attached tick. Early removal is important—the longer an infected tick is attached to the skin, the higher the chances are for transmitting diseases such as Lyme and anaplasmosis. Keep ticks away by mowing your lawn often and removing brush.  Playground toys, decks, and patios should be kept away from wooded areas. In addition, do not feed deer on your property. If you see a tick embedded in your skin, follow the steps below (or watch this video) to learn how to remove it:

  • Take tweezers to the tick’s head or mouth, where it enters the skin.
  • Pull the tick firmly up, in a steady motion, away from the skin.
  • Clean the bite with soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Keep a record of the date, time, and where you were bitten.

For more information visit the CDC website.