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Diseases & Topics

Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is a general name for several bacterial diseases affecting both people and animals. Two kinds of ehrlichiosis — one caused by Ehrlichia chaffensis bacteria and the other, less commonly, by Ehrlichia ewingii bacteria — are transmitted to humans through bites of infected Lone Star ticks (Amblyomma americanum). These ticks are found in the southeastern and south-central United States, including North Carolina.

Typical symptoms of ehrlichiosis include fever, headache, fatigue and muscle aches. Other signs and symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, joint pains, confusion, and occasionally a rash, particularly in children. Usually, these symptoms occur within one or two weeks following a tick bite. The disease is initially diagnosed based on clinical signs and symptoms and medical history and can later be confirmed for surveillance purposes by using specialized laboratory tests. Ehrlichiosis can be treated with antibiotics such as doxycycline.

Ehrlichiosis can be a severe or even fatal illness, especially if untreated, and as many as half of all patients require hospitalization.

To prevent ehrlichiosis and other tick-borne illnesses, use insect repellent, remove ticks promptly, and eliminate tick habitat around your home through landscaping and integrated pest management practices.

In North Carolina

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