Parasite Forecasts

Anaplasmosis Forecast 2020


Anaplasmosis is a tick-borne disease that can affect both dogs and humans.

  • Throughout much of the contiguous United States the risk of exposure to the bacteria that cause anaplasmosis in dogs is remaining the same compared to the previous eight years.
  • The risk is expected to be higher than average throughout the New England states. The rise in exposure to Anaplasma spp. has been also seen in humans with an increase in anaplasmosis cases being reported in Maine (1).
  • The biggest area of increase for dogs is expected to be northeastern Pennsylvania. Pet owners in the Northeast should consult with their veterinarian about the best way to protect their pets and remove any ticks they find on their pets promptly.
  • Other areas that are forecasted to have increased risk include eastern Virginia and northern California. These areas and much of the surrounding regions have historically had a low risk of exposure, pet owners should be particularly vigilant in light of these predicted changes.
  • Similar to the previous year, a lower than average risk is expected in eastern Massachusetts, as well as southeastern New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and eastern Connecticut.
  • Much of Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota are also expected to have a lower than average risk this year, but most of northern Minnesota is expected to have a higher than average risk. This is great example of why it is important to talk to your veterinarian about your travel plans so your veterinarian can make the appropriate preventative care recommendations.

1. Elias SP, Bonthius J, Robinson S, Robich RM, Lubelczyk CB, Smith Jr RP. Surge in Anaplasmosis Cases in Maine, USA, 2013–2017. Emerging infectious diseases. 2020 Feb;26(2):327.

In dogs, anaplasmosis is a disease caused by Anaplasma phagocytophilum that infects white blood cells or Anaplasma platys that infects platelets (cells that aid in clotting).  Both bacteria are transmitted through the bite of ticks.  The black-legged tick transmits A. phagocytophilum, while the brown dog tick is believed to transmit A. platys. Similar to ehrlichiosis, dogs may not show any signs of infection. If they do, common signs include fever, lethargy, poor appetite, and muscle and joint pain. Chronic infection has not been observed.

Although infection is not transmitted directly from an infected dog to humans or other pets in the household, an infected dog does mean that ticks carrying the bacteria are present in the area that could bite and infect other pets and humans. This may be particularly important should your pet be diagnosed after some recent travel where you and your pet were recreating outdoors together.

Most cases of anaplasmosis are seen in the Northeastern and upper Midwestern states because A. phagocytophilum is carried by the same tick that transmits the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. As a result, it is possible to have both of these diseases at the same time. Recent research suggests that the range of black-legged ticks is expanding, bringing anaplasmosis and Lyme disease into new areas of the US. For both these reasons, use of year-round tick preventatives is strongly recommended, even in dogs vaccinated against Lyme disease (because ticks can carry many other pathogens not covered by the Lyme vaccine).

Within any geographic area, there may be several different kinds of ticks and each tick can have several different stages (larvae, nymphs and adults that may look quite different from each other). Also, as noted above an individual tick may also harbor more than one disease-causing agent.  People generally consider the summer to be the only time that dogs and people are at risk of getting ticks; however, some species of ticks or stages, for example brown dog ticks and adult black-legged ticks, can be active throughout the winter. In addition, brown dog ticks can live indoors, increasing risk of year-around exposure. Even though avoiding tall grass and wooded areas can help to minimize your dog’s exposure to ticks, there is still a risk of infection.  That’s why CAPC recommends year-round tick control and regular screening tests for tick-borne infections in dogs.

There is no vaccine to prevent anaplasmosis, so it is essential to use a tick control product that’s recommended by your veterinarian as being right for your dog.  Even with tick control, it’s a good idea to carefully check your dog’s entire body and remove attached ticks as soon as possible. Always use tweezers or other tick-removal devices and wear gloves to prevent exposure to disease-causing agents.

Stay current on vector-borne disease activity in your area

To help you identify the risk for parasite infection in your geographic area, CAPC provides Parasite Prevalence Maps down to the county level. The maps report the number of dogs testing positive for infection in your area, as well as in other regions where you may travel with your pet. Parasites that affect pets and people are dynamic and ever changing, and CAPC is your trusted resource for accurate, timely information.

Category: Parasite Forecasts