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Ehrlichiosis is an infection passed through a tick bite. It can be fatal if left untreated. However, it can be treated with medicine.
Ehrlichiosis is caused by specific bacteria. The bacteria are passed through the bite of a tick. The lonestar tick, deer tick, and dog tick are linked with this infection.
It may take at least 24 hours for the infection to pass through the bite. Not all tick bites will cause an infection. If a tick bites you, watch the area over the next few days. Call your doctor if you develop any symptoms.
Being in areas known to have ticks increases your risk of infection. This includes outdoor areas with high grass or bushes.
The infection is most often found in the United States in:
People with weaker immune systems have higher risk of severe infection.
It may take at least 1 to 2 weeks before symptoms develop. The first symptoms are often flu-like symptoms such as:
Some may also develop:
Some people also develop a rash.
An untreated infection can cause problems with breathing and bleeding.
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You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. You may be asked if you have spent time in areas known for ticks. You may be unaware of a tick bite and there may be no mark. A physical exam will be done.
A blood test may be done to:
Ehrlichiosis can be treated with antibiotics.
Other medicine may be needed to relieve symptoms. They can be stopped once the infection has passed. It may take a few weeks before all the symptoms have passed.
Tick bites can cause a few types of infections. If you are in an area that may have ticks:
After being outdoors:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Public Health Agency of Canada
Ehrlichiosis. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/ehrlichiosis.html. Updated February 2014. Accessed September 23, 2014.
Ehrlichiosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ehrlichiosis. Updated July 2017. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116665/Ehrlichiosis-and-anaplasmosis. Updated December 9, 2016. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD Last Updated: 9/23/2018