New Tick-Borne Disease Identified In Minn., Wis.

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Mayo Clinic researchers have identified a new tick-borne disease in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Doctors say it’s just as serious as Lyme disease, but harder to detect.

The newly discovered bacterial strain is called Ehrlichiosis, which is spread by tiny deer ticks — the same ticks that carry Lyme disease.

“We are seeing cases in central Minnesota. The same areas we are seeing Lyme disease,” said Davie Nietzel, an Epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health.

Erlichiosis is very different from Lyme disease, where your odds are very good if you are able to remove the tick within 48 hours. Erlichiosis bacteria infects humans as soon as they are bitten.

Ehrlichiosis infects and kills white blood cells and may cause fever, body aches, headache and fatigue.
Ehrlichiosis also differs from Lyme disease’s symptoms. Unlike Lyme disease, there is no rash that occurs and the symptoms begin occurring almost immediately.

In the past two years, only 25 cases of Ehrlichiosis have been identified in Minnesota and Wisconsin. However, experts believe the numbers are much higher because it can be misdiagnosed, it’s a recently discovered strain and the symptoms are similar to other ailments.

The disease can be treated with antibiotics, but the best prevention is to simply not get bitten.

One tip to help prevent getting bitten is to tuck your jeans into your socks while in the woods, which prevents the ticks from crawling into your pants.

Another tip experts recommend is to stick to trails, because ticks prefer the thick underbrush.
Also, spray your shoes and camping equipment with the insecticide Permanone, and you can use a 30 percent DEET concentration on yourself.

Kids are especially vulnerable, according to Mike McLean of the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District.

“Kids are out in the woods more. They crash around in the underbrush a little bit more. A lot of the times, kids are giving off a little bit more of the carbon dioxide and the gases that are attractive to insects — not only ticks, but mosquitoes, too,” said McLean.

One last prevention tip is to always check yourself and kids for ticks after being in the woods.

More from Esme Murphy
  • Jack Anderson

    Duh! I think you are supposed to tuck the jeans into the socks. I’m not sure how you tuck socks into jeans — doubt tucking them into your pockets will help!

  • Laure

    This is not new and it is called: Human Anaplasmosis (HA)

    Human anaplasmosis (HA) was formerly called granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE). It is the second-most common tick-borne disease in Minnesota after Lyme disease.

    Do a little research before you run a story.

    • Yup!

      Yup! my wife was diagnosed this about 7hrs ago

  • Jon

    +Typical of the news channels. Both my daughter and I were diagnosed with ehrlichiosis 5 years ago. This is not new! You should do some research before you run these stories. This is the same Mayo Clinic that said that Lyme isnt a threat and can easily be treated. WOW

  • Anne

    Lyme Disease. Lyme. Lyme. Singular. NOT Lyme’s Disease.
    I’m surprised this came from an experienced reporter.

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  • Anita

    Ehrlichiosis in not new. My husband was hospitalized for it in 2004. At that time Crow Wing County was the hot spot in the state, but the news played it down so tourism in the area wouldn’t be hurt.

    Do your research. If your going to report on it, people should know that if it is not treated quickly it can become life threatening.

  • todd
  • Toni

    Whether or not this is new, I had never heard of this disease before. Maybe it would have been better reported as an update?? I find it interesting that it is previlant in central Minnesota as that is where I live.

  • John Coughlin

    Thanks to Dr Mac and Dr. B this has been known for quite sometime now. the new research shows that ticks come loaded with up to a dozen co infections from the Lyme tick… Many medical labs are way behind the research and are only now catching up to what we known for years now..

  • Elizabeth

    News? Good one. I was diagnosed with this in June as a co-infection of Lyme, and as you can see from some of the comments, people have known about this disease for years. The reason you haven’t heard about it is because the government and mainstream medical communities don’t want to get their hands dirty with such serious, expensive to treat illnesses such as Lyme and tick-borne co-infections.

  • Denise Presnell-Weidner

    Although it is good that at least a story (although EXTREMELY behind reality) about the many common co-infections of Lyme is finally being written – the real stories come from the victims. I would like to see reporters go to their local Lyme organizations (most have a website) and begin to dig out the real stories from the victims. Most Lyme sufferers do immense research, because places like Mayo do very little research in comparison. Lyme patients are far more Lyme literate than Mayo and Infectious Disease Centers.

  • Cameron

    Desnise’s observation impresses me as the hand in front of your face. I anticipate the rationale offered by the “truth telling” scientific community and the media who dispense what “truths” they believe we need to is that stories from victims would be “anecdotal” and, thus, unreliable by contrast with their empirically validated findings.

  • Rachel

    This is one of the most poorly written articles I have ever read and an absolute disgrace and insult to people like me who have lost the normalcy of their lives to Lyme and its co-infections.

  • Lauren

    Agreed – poorly researched and poorly written. This disease and many others carried by ticks have been around for almost 20 years. A true journalist would do INVESTIGATIVE research before writing an article. It’s painfully obvious that instead a quick google search was done, followed by “copy and paste”. Unacceptable.

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