• Ehrlichiosis


    Ehrlichiosis is an infection passed through a tick bite. It can be treated with medication, but can be fatal if left untreated.


    Ehrlichiosis is cause by specific bacteria. The bacteria are passed through the bite of a tick, specifically the lonestar tick, deer tick, and dog tick.

    Risk Factors

    Spending time in an area where ticks are common, increases your risk of infection. This includes outdoor areas with high grass or bushes. Not all tick bites will lead to infection.
    The infection is most often found in the mid-Atlantic, southeastern, and south central United States.
    The risk of a severe infection is increased in people with impaired immune systems such as HIV or cancer.


    It may take at least 1-2 weeks before symptoms develop. The first symptoms are often flu-like symptoms such as:
    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Muscle and joint aches
    • Nausea and loss of appetite
    • Headaches
    • Fatigue
    Some may also develop:
    • Stiff neck
    • Confusion
    Some people also develop a rash.
    An untreated infection can cause difficulty breathing and bleeding problems.
    Headache and Neck Stiffness
    nucleus fact sheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. You may not have known you were bitten. You may not have a bite mark. You may be asked if you have spent time in areas known for ticks. A physical exam will be done.
    A blood test may be done to:
    • Confirm the presence of the ehrlichiosis
    • Look for any other infection that may have been passed from the tick
    • Look for any signs of organ damage


    Ehrlichiosis can be successfully treated with antibiotics.
    Other medications may be advised to help relieve symptoms until the infection has cleared. It may take a few weeks before all of the symptoms have gone away completely.


    Avoiding tick bites is the best way to prevent ehrlichiosis. Learn when ticks are most active in your area. Avoid tall grass, woods, and brush during these times. If you are in these areas:
    • Wear light colored clothing to make ticks easier to see.
    • Wear long pants and socks. Consider tucking your pants into your socks so the ticks have a harder time getting to your skin.
    • Use a bug repellent that contains DEET. Follow directions for use on the container.
    After being outdoors:
    • Check yourself and your pets thoroughly for ticks.
    • Quickly remove any ticks that you have found.
    • If a tick is attached to the skin, remove it as soon as possible. Grab the tick close to your skin and pull out with steady pressure. Wash the area where the tick was attached with soap and water.
    It may take at least 24 hours for the infection to pass through the bite. Not all tick bites will cause an infection. If you were bitten by a tick, watch the area over the next few days. Call your doctor if you develop any symptoms.


    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov

    Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org


    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

    Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca


    Ehrlichiosis. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/ehrlichiosis.html. Updated February 2014. Accessed September 23, 2014.

    Ehrlichiosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ehrlichiosis. Updated November 15, 2013. Accessed September 23, 2014.

    Ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 7, 2014. Accessed September 23, 2014.

    Ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/ehrlichiosisanaplasmosis/Pages/Default.aspx. Accessed September 23, 2014.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.