Public Health identifies Anaplasmosis-causing bacteria in ticks in KFL&A region

An adult black legged tick, or deer tick. Photo by Jerzy Gorecki.

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

According to a release from Public Health, in the Fall of 2021, researchers from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa conducted active tick surveillance in Eastern Ontario, including Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington. They discovered four ticks positive for the bacterium Anaplasmosis phagocytophilium, the bacteria that causes Anaplasmosis, at three different sites across our region.

There is limited data on the number of Anaplasmosis cases that occur each year in Ontario, Public Health stated. In 2021, the eastern region of Ontario noted a few people tested positive for the tick-borne pathogen. There were also additional reports of ten human cases in Quebec. 

While the greatest risk of exposure to a tick is during the spring, summer and early fall months, ticks can be active any time the weather is above freezing. Public Health said that it is important to know that during the spring and early summer months, ticks can be very small (the size of a poppy seed) and once attached, will often go unnoticed. This results in a higher chance of being infected with a tick-borne disease.

“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 bitten by a tick or have recently visited a wooded or grassy area, Public Health recommends you 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 bitten by a tick or been in tick habitat, please contact your health care provider. 

For more information on ticks, Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, visit the KFL&A Public Health website.

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