Never Fear Anaplasmosis; Doxycycline is Here
The headlines are everywhere: “New Lyme Disease Claims 50 Lives”; “Chinese Tick-born Illness Strikes Again”; “Chinese Plague Threatens US”. However, it is unclear exactly how dangerous this disease truly is. Yes, tens of people have died and hundreds more likely will, but this is a disease that is thousands of miles away and has fatalities only among the poor. With good modern medical treatment, would there really be a problem?
Anaplasmosis in the US and Canada
Human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA) is a bacterial infection spread by ticks - parasitic arachnids that feed on the blood of their hosts. Because Lyme Disease is also carried and spread by ticks, HGA has drawn many comparisons in the world media. In the United States, where Lyme Disease is common, there have been fears spread in the media that anaplasmosis could spread like Californian wildfires throughout wooded states.
Ironically anaplasmosis has been in the US for a while now. The Northeast and northern Midwest regions have had a number of cases. What remains unclear, however, is whether the strain of anaplasmosis found in China—caused by a particular type of the bacteria Anaplasma phagocytophilum - is present in North America. If ticks carry this bacteria, it is likely that the US and Canada could also suffer new cases of anaplasmosis.
A factor that researchers are having a hard time with and is obscuring answers is the species of tick. Ticks in China are different from ticks in America. There are two species of ticks in the US that are known carries of anaplasmosis:
Among US states, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New York have both the highest known incidences of the disease and the greatest change of suffering a pandemic.
- Black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), found in the northern Midwest and Northeast United States
- Western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus), found along the US West Coast
Research and Testing
Researchers are struggling with ways to get accurate testing and projections for how much of a problem it is and where the problem is.
A potential solution might be to test the mice and squirrels of these regions of the US and Canada. Scientists know that Lyme Disease is carried by and transmitted among these rodents and small mammals and then transfered by tick-bite to humans. Scientists are looking into whether testing these small animals is a research option.
Why this has suddenly become a problem in China?
The theory as to why Lyme Disease became a problem in the US is that increases in tick populations and human proximity to these wooded areas as cities encroach on forests has led to more contact between humans and ticks. The same could very well apply to China.
Is there a cure?
While anaplasmosis is potentially fatal if untreated, there is rarely a problem when patients gets a steady dose of the antibiotic Doxycycline. The problem is that the symptoms of HGA are very similar to less serious illnesses, so the disease has the potential to be misdiagnosed and the patient untreated. However, Doxycycline has been so successful that Chinese pharmaceutical companies have seen their stocks rise to a four-month high.
While scientists and doctors are preaching the doctrine of limiting exposure and leaving the woods alone, they stress that there is no need to panic; Doxycycline should keep anaplasmosis under wraps.
When the use of topical lotions and creams has failed, the use of an antibiotic like Doxycycline will often reduce acne or completely cure it.
Malaria is common in some parts of the world and, before traveling, it is advisabl
e to take precautions. Take advice on when to use Doxycycline.