Move over, Lyme disease.
Another tick-borne ailment is coming to the neighborhood.
Public health officials say the number of cases of anaplasmosis is on the rise.
In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 2,800 cases nationwide.
In 2015, that jumped to 3,656 cases — a 31 percent increase in one year.
While anaplasmosis cases still lag far behind the 28,000 annual cases of Lyme disease, public health officials are still concerned.
“It is important to take notice of this disease,” Dr. Paige Armstrong, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC, told Healthline.
What is anaplasmosis?
Anaplasmosis was once known as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE).
More recently, the ailment has been officially known as human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA).
According to the CDC, anaplasmosis is primarily spread to humans by bites from the black-legged tick and the western black-legged tick.
These are the same ticks that also spread Lyme disease.
The disease usually appears one to two weeks after a tick bite.
The symptoms include fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches.
Those symptoms are also similar to Lyme disease, although experts say Lyme disease can have more serious long-term effects.
With anaplasmosis, however, there is no telltale rash that appears, so it can be more difficult to diagnosis.
Anaplasmosis is usually treated with doxycycline.
Less than 1 percent of anaplasmosis cases are fatal, but experts say without early treatment, the illness can become worrisome.
“It’s still a pretty serious disease,” said Armstrong.
The disease did get pretty serious for Jeffrey Diamond, a 67-year-old author who lives in Massachusetts.
Diamond has chronicled his ordeal in a two-part series in The Berkshire Eagle.
He writes that he ended up as one of the 5 percent of people who contract anaplasmosis and end up in the hospital.
Diamond told the “Today” show on NBC that he stills suffers from joint and other pain to this day.
Why the disease is increasing
Experts say there are several reasons anaplasmosis and other tick-borne diseases are increasing.
First, the black-legged tick population is increasing and also spreading into new environments, although at the moment the disease is still primarily limited in the United States to the Northeast and Upper Midwest.
One of the reasons for this rise in tick population is the increase in the number of white-tailed deer that carry the insect.
Armstrong said those deer were hunted almost to extinction 100 years ago, but conservation efforts have replenished the population.
In addition, people are building homes closer to areas where the insects thrive.
“We are moving into ‘tick city,’” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Healthline.
He and Armstrong both noted there is also more awareness of the disease, so more cases are being reported and diagnosed.
Armstrong said you can get bitten by a black-legged tick while hiking, traipsing into the rough at a golf course, or even while doing yard work.
He added that pets can also bring the ticks into your home. The animals themselves, however, will not develop symptoms.
Schaffner and Armstrong both listed ways to reduce your risk of contracting anaplasmosis.
One is to avoid areas where ticks might live.
If you do venture into those regions, wear a long-sleeve shirt and long pants.
Check yourself as well as your pets for ticks after being outdoors. Ask a friend to check your back and hair for ticks you can’t see.
You can also spray a repellent such as DEET on yourself before you venture out.
And, if you do become ill after spending time in “tick city,” go see a medical professional as quickly as possible.