Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis (HGA)
What is HGA?
- Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis (HGA) is one of several possible tick-borne disease in Manitoba
- HGA is caused by a bacterial infection transmitted to humans by infected blacklegged ticks (sometimes called deer ticks), the same tick that can transmit the Lyme disease bacteria.
What are the Symptoms?
- The symptoms of HGA can include:
- Muscle aches
- Less frequent symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, joint pain, cough, confusion and occasionally a rash.
- Symptoms can begin 5 days to 3 weeks after being bitten by an infected tick.
- In most cases, HGA is a mild illness. Some people can get seriously ill, particularly people who are immune compromised or have other health conditions affecting the immune system. Rare severe complications can include acute respiratory distress, encephalitis or meningitis, renal failure, blood clotting disorders and occasionally death.
- If you think that you may have HGA, contact your health care provider.
What is theTreatment?
- HGA can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the time the person is ill and the severity of disease.
Is HGA in Manitoba?
- HGA is not a reportable disease. The number of people in Manitoba who may have contracted this disease is unknown, but it is believed to be an uncommon illness.
- A small percentage of blacklegged ticks in Manitoba have tested positive for the bacteria that causes HGA. Occasionally, black-legged ticks can be infected with both the HGA and Lyme disease bacteria at the same time.
- Throughout Manitoba there is a chance of coming into contact with blacklegged ticks transported by migrating birds. The risk of coming into contact with, potentially infected, blacklegged ticks is greater in areas with established populations. Check the Manitoba Health website for the latest information on the locations of established and suspected established blacklegged tick populations in Manitoba and in other provinces and countries.
- HGA can also be found in the northeastern and midwestern United States. Minnesota has seen an increase in the number of HGA cases over the past several years.
How can you protect yourself from ticks?
- Blacklegged ticks can be collected in tall grass, along trail margins and in wooded areas. Adult blacklegged ticks are most active in spring and fall, and they remain active until the first permanent snowfall or when air temperatures are consistently below 4oC.
- You can protect yourself from HGA by avoiding contact with blacklegged ticks:
- When outside during tick season, avoid tick-infested habitat, whenever possible.
- Use trails, whenever possible, and stay to the centre of hiking trails or paths.
- Wear light colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks that may be on you.
- Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks; this will make it more difficult for the ticks to attach to your skin.
- Apply an appropriate repellent (it should state ‘for use against ticks’ on the product label) on clothing and exposed skin (other than the face). Always read and follow instructions for use.
- After spending time outdoors, inspect yourself and your children for ticks and remove any ticks found as soon as possible. Bathing soon after coming indoors is a good way to find ticks.
- Regularly inspect pets for ticks.
- Keep grass and shrubs around your home cut short to create drier environments that are less suitable for ticks.
What should you do if I find a tick on myself, my child or my pet?
- If the tick is attached to your skin, remove it with tweezers. Grasp the tick close to the skin and pull slowly upward with steady pressure; avoid twisting or crushing the tick.
- Methods such as using a match, petroleum jelly, soap etc. to remove ticks are not recommended.
- Cleanse the skin around the tick bite with soap and water or disinfectant.
- Mark the date and location of the bite on the calendar for future reference.
- If you develop symptoms, see your doctor.
What should I do with blacklegged ticks that I find?
- Manitobans can submit blacklegged ticks as part of the blacklegged tick and Lyme disease surveillance program. Individuals are encouraged to submit ticks during the fall surveillance campaign.
- Ticks should be placed in a small crushproof bottle (ex: pill bottle) with a piece of slightly damp paper towel to help keep the tick alive.
- Firmly tape the lid shut.
- Seal the bottle in a plastic bag and then in a cardboard box labeled: Research Specimens Fragile – Handle with Care and send to the following address:
Dr. Terry Galloway, Department of Entomology
Animal Science/ Entomology Building, Room 214
Fort Garry Campus, University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2
- Include the following details: name, address and phone number, information about where, when and on whom (ex: person, dog) the tick was found, as well as any recent travel activity. A submission form can be downloaded from the Manitoba Health website: http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/lyme/blacklegged.html.
- Results of the testing will be provided once completed.
For more information, contact your doctor, your local Public Health Unit or Health Links-Info Santé at 1-888-315-9257 or 204-788-8200.
Click here for a PDF version of this information
|For more information:
Public Health and Primary Health Care
4th Floor - 300 Carlton St.
Winnipeg MB R3B 3M9
Phone: (204) 788-6735
Fax: (204) 948-2040