KFL&A Public Health identifies anaplasmosis in blacklegged ticks

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The Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health Unit have identified a bacteria that causes anaplasmosis in blacklegged ticks in the region.

The bacteria that causes anaplasmosis, also known as human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), has been identified in Blacklegged ticks in the Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington region. Anaplasmosis is a tick-borne disease transmitted to humans through the bite of a blacklegged tick, the same species that transmits Lyme disease.

In the fall of 2021, researchers in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa studied ticks in Eastern Ontario. They discovered four ticks positive for the bacteria anaplasmosis phagocytophilim, at three different sites across the region.

In 2021, a few people tested positive for tick-borne pathogen in the eastern region of Ontario. There were also 10 human cases reported in Quebec.

The greatest risk of exposure to ticks is during the spring, summer, and early fall months, ticks can be active any time the weather is above freezing. Ticks can be very small, as small as a poppy seed, and once attached, will often go unnoticed.

“In most cases, those infected with anaplasmosis experience mild and self-limiting symptoms.  Symptoms usually resolve within 30 days, however more severe illness can occur in those who are older, those with a weakened immune system, or those in whom diagnosis and treatment are delayed” said Joan Black, public health nurse at KFL&A Public Health.  

If you have recently been bit by a tick or have recently visited a wooded or grassy area, monitor for common symptoms of Anaplasmosis, which usually appear within 1-2 weeks and may include:

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and have been recently bit by a tick or been in tick habitat, please contact your health care provider.