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Ehrlichiosis is the general name used to describe several bacterial diseases that affect animals and humans. Human ehrlichiosisis a disease caused by at least three different ehrlichial species.

At-Risk Populations

Ehrlichiosis is sometimes fatal, especially in the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and those who have had their spleens removed.


The following symptoms are commonly seen with this disease, however, it is important to note that the combination of symptoms varies greatly from person to person; fever, headache, chills, malaise, muscle pain, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, confusion, conjunctival injection (red eyes), and rash (in up to 60% of children, less than 30% of adults).

How It Spreads

It spreads through the bite of infected ticks.


Reducing exposure to ticks is the best defense against Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Babesiosis, Ehrliochiosis, and other tickborne infections. There are several steps you and your family can take to prevent and control tick borne diseases:

Removing Ticks

  • Using a pair of pointed (fine-tipped) tweezers, grasp the mouthparts of the tick as close to the skin as possible.
  • Pull the tick straight out with a firm and steady force.
  • Wash the area of the bite thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Do not attempt to remove the tick by touching it with a burnt match or swabbing it with alcohol or petroleum jelly.  (This will only aggravate the tick and cause it to release more bacteria into the blood stream.)
  • Do not squeeze the tick’s body when removing it and do not handle the tick with bare hands.

It takes roughly a day or two for ticks to transmit bacteria it is important to remove ticks from your skin as soon as you discover them. If there is a concern about incomplete tick removal, please contact your healthcare provider. (more)

Testing & Diagnosis

In symptomatic people, ehrlichiosis usually is diagnosed by examining blood specimens under a microscope and seeing inclusions called morulae inside white blood cells. Serology and molecular methods are also important to establish the diagnosis.


Babesiosis can be treated with antibiotics.