Did you know that ticks carry a number of diseases beside Lyme disease? Two that in recent years have reared their ugly heads on Cape Ann are anaplasmosis and babesiosis. Both are transmitted by the black-legged tick (deer tick) in the northeastern U.S. and both have similar symptoms. When symptoms are exhibited, blood is drawn to determine which pathogen is present.

Recently I was bitten by a black-legged tick. The tick was only on my person for several hours. I brushed it off before realizing that it was a tick. The tick was completely flat and not in the least bit engorged. It left a slightly red raised bump that was itchy for a week or so. At my doctor’s office the staff insisted that because the tick was not engorged and because it was attached for less than twenty four hours I was safe from disease. This information was also reinforced by reading about Lyme disease on countless websites.

deer_tick_typesTicks of all sizes and at all stages of life can harbor diseases

That you cannot get sick from a tick attached for less than twenty four hours is 100 percent false. Several weeks ago I staggered home from a very busy day planting a client’s garden. I thought perhaps I had just overdone it and went straight to bed. The next day I could barely move. For the next two weeks I would make an effort to get to work but wind up back in bed a few short hours later. I at first thought it was the flu, but instead of running its course and getting better, things went from bad to worse until I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. That’s one of the things with anaplasmosis, it also effects your respiratory system.

Kelly Ries, Gloucester’s public health nurse shares that less than five cases of anaplasmosis and babesiosis have been reported in Gloucester. Symptoms of anaplasmosis include fever, headache, muscle pain, malaise, chills, nausea, abdominal pain, cough, confusion, and loss of appetite, of which I had all.

I am writing to help create an awareness with our readers that Lyme disease is not the only pathogen carried by the black-legged tick. Each year, more and more cases of anaplasmosis and babesiosis are being diagnosed in the northeast. Nurse Kelly also reports that black-legged ticks are still active at this time of year and can continue to transmit disease even after the first snowfall of the season. If any of our readers have contracted anaplasmosis (which I sincerely hope not) please write and let us know your experience. Thank you so much.

Doxycycline is the first line of defense for adults and children of all ages and should be initiated immediately whenever anaplasmosis is suspected however, the CDC website provides a warning regarding prophylaxis (preventative treatment): Antibiotic treatment following a tick bite is not recommended as a means to prevent anaplasmosis. There is no evidence this practice is effective, and this may simply delay onset of disease. Instead, persons who experience a tick bite should be alert for symptoms suggestive of tickborne illness and consult a physician if fever, rash, or other symptoms of concern develop.

For more information about about anaplasmosis see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.

As you can see from the map below, prior to 2010, there were zero cases of anaplasmosis reported in Massachusetts.ana_incidslide_18


  1. YES!! Thank you for writing this, Kim!

    We live on island and almost lost our pup to anaplasmosis two years ago. She had 6k platelets, and should have had 130k++. After MUCH research I insisted on a solid month of doxy for her and she only got better at the end of that round.

    I myself went to the ER this weekend after I pulled a tick off of my leg. I had the lyme ring so they finally caved (at my insistence) and gave me a 3wk rx for doxy, I will go to an md for another 10 days rx to make it a full month. I don’t like to even take advil, but I learned first hand not to chance it.

    I also know about babesiosis and am convinced i had/have it after researching my frequent low grade fevers, during which I would perspire heavily behind my ears only (?!!) and even more strange I could not hold my focus long enough to read, and I am an avid reader. I learned later that it would have helped to read very short paragraphs. All of this has cycled in and out and I can read much more now. Just throwing this info out there to possibly save someone 3+ years of research!!

    I now use Tick’m Off spray, made in Newburyport and sold at Conley’s drug, religiously. There is a very specific rose oil in it that I used with success before finding this spray. I spray it on my hands and then rub on my pup and her clothing before every outing, and i spray liberally on myself as well, even doing all the way around my hairline and earlobes.

    My mother just found a tick on her thigh yesterday, engorged, and they would only give her a single dose of 200mg doxy.

    Many articles say to find an LLMD, Lyme Literate md, as most general mds do not understand it fully.

    Also, I am taking this probiotic during and for 2 mos after my doxy run to compensate for the damage antibiotics do:

    Renew Life Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic 150 Billion (formerly Mega Potent), 30 Count

    I gave my pup miracle probiotic after her doxy run, too.

    Good luck, all! The ticks have been out in full force!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Jenna for writing and sharing your experiences (ordeals!) with tickborne illnesses. Very helpful and very informative. I am definitely going to stop at Conley’s for the tick repellent. I hope so much both you and your Mom are going to be fine!


  2. And that’s why I’m not a woods or animal guy. The way i see it you can go to a nice hotel with a comfy bed or go off in the woods and get bit by a bug and nearly die. Seems like a simple decision to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not to downplay the risk of anaplasmosis and babesiosis ( I mentioned in a GMG post in March of 2013 that they were on Cape Ann) but you have a far greater risk of dying in a hotel fire than dying by these infections. A list of hotel fires in Mexico carries a much greater risk than in the USA. If you avoid the woods you should also pack a personal fire alarm too.

      Kim, I’m sure they told you but relapse and a necessary retreatment is not uncommon. Hope you feel better.



      1. Ignorant and utterly disrespectful comment to the hundreds of thousands of people suffering from Lyme and confections. Many have died. Most live with daily pain and limited ability to function. Very few Lyme literate doctors, and most don’t take insurance. Lyme patients going bankrupt, having to sell their homes, cars, belongings just to afford treatment. THE CDC IS THE LEAST informative resource for Lyme and confections. Walk in my shoes for one day and you might become more compassionate. It’s not all about dying from Lyme…it’s about having to live with it for the rest of your life. This article could have been a lot more informative…maybe next time. Lyme IS THE UNKNOWN EPIDEMIC. It is in every US state, and many other countries. Our government, big pharma, and CDC are all hiding the severity of the real situation because there isn’t a way for them to profit from our pain yet. I hope you don’t get Lyme.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Kendra, You mistake my giving Joey shit for his phobias about a walk in the woods for disrespect of people getting Lyme disease. Nothing could be further from my point. Joey thinks there are wolves and disease dripping from the trees in the woods that will instantly disembowel him.

          As for the CDC, I don’t know what to say except I know CDC scientists and they are the best of the bunch working for low pay because citizens do not respect their work but they still do a great job and are a very good source for information on Lyme disease, anaplasmosis,ehrlichiosis, relapsing fever, tularemia and babesiosis. (They were the first to identify their spread.)

          My wife has had Lyme disease twice as well as my dog. Lyme disease is a very known pandemic (not epidemic). It is a terrible chronic condition that more information should be out there because if it is identified early it can be wiped out. Support your CDC.

          What I was pointing out to Joey is that risk analysis says he is no safer perhaps less safe staying in a high end Mexican resort with plush pillows than he is walking in the woods. I am not making light of dying in a hotel conflagration either but it is more common than dying of lyme disease.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the reminder and I’m sorry you paid a high price for the lesson. Your readers might be interested in a Radiolab podscast episode from Oct 27 2016 called “Alpha Gal”. This discussed how a tick bite might could lead to an allergy to red meat!!! Talk about conditions many MDs may be unaware of….this is a prime example. Glad to know you are feeling better now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Pat for writing, very interesting. This tick bit has really affected my appetite and taste buds. I haven’t been able to even look at coffee of wine for well over a month. I hope things get back to normal soon.


  4. Very sorry to hear about this Kim wishing a quick recovery. Yes there is a bad fallout from this and too think of the things we did as children that way woods, fields, tall grass! It’s good to get this information out as quickly as possible. Dave


  5. Just a quick update –

    My mother had 2 more tick bites!! before she finally got on board with spraying herself with that tick m’off spray stuff. Neither me or my pup have had one tick since starting to spray. It is expensive at conley’s ($37? for larger spray bottle)..not sure if other locations sell for less. Hopefully the cold front coming this week will freeze those little suckers.

    We both had the lyme ring so they won’t ever test us – you have the ring, you have Lyme.

    Addison ER will give you up to 21 days of doxy as that is the cdc recommendation.

    The only symptom we have both had in common is a painful stiff neck. Both still have it.

    I am 10 days into my 3wk doxycycline round and have learned a few things.

    1. Do not take on empty stomach. My stomach is a mess from doing that the first week.

    2. Take with a full glass of water or it could get stuck (you won’t feel it) and give you an esophageal ulcer which I started to get and it is PAINFUL.

    3. Do not lay down for at least 30-60 minutes after taking (see ulcer warning above).

    4. Do not ingest any dairy 2-3hrs before or after doxy as it can bind to the doxy making it ineffective. We gave our pup her doxy wrapped in cream cheese if you can believe (vet at the time said it was fine), so no wonder it did not work until a month of doxy for her!



    1. I was just looking back through my pup’s medical records and she had Ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia) in addition to Anaplasmosis, and now remember it was Ehrlichia that caused her platelet count to plummet. So we have Ehrlichia on island, too. Thank goodness for Doxy! 😊


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