Two species have been diagnosed in Hunterdon County residents: Human Monocytic Ehrlichiosis (HME) and Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis (HGE). HME is primarily transmitted by the Lone Star Tick, while HGE is primarily transmitted by the black-legged deer tick.
The incubation period for Ehrlichiosis is typically 5 to 10 days after the tick bite. Initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and occasionally a rash. The rash is rarely reported in adults with HGE; however, a rash occurs in up to 60% of children infected with HME. Some people may have no symptoms of infection with either HME or HGE or may have mild symptoms.
Ehrlichiosis infection can be severe; as many as half of all patients are hospitalized, and approximately 2-3% of patients die from the infection. Individuals with a compromised immune system (due to the use of corticosteroids or chemotherapy), HIV infection, or splenectomy may develop more severe diseases and are more likely to die from the infection. The elderly are also at higher risk of developing a more severe infection.
Treatment of Ehrlichiosis consists of 100 milligrams. of Doxycycline twice daily for a minimum of 7 days. Severe cases may require longer treatment.
Prevention measures include:
- Frequent full-body tick checks
- Use of tick repellants
- Wearing light-colored clothing when in tick habitats
- Wearing long sleeves, and tucking your pants into your socks so that ticks can not crawl up the inside of your pants legs.
- Acaricides can also be applied to property in the spring of the year; consult a professional in pest control for more information.
- Modify your environment by cutting lawns and pruning vegetation to allow in sunlight.
- Remove leaf litter and plant debris, and move bird feeders away from activity areas as small rodents that carry ticks are often attracted to dropped seed.
Information courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention