Epidemiological, clinical and laboratory characteristics of patients with human granulocytic anaplas
Human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA) has been recently recognized as an emerging tick-borne disease. Several reports indicate the presence of infection with Anaplasma phagocytophilum in Europe. Between January 1996 and December 2004, 24 adult patients with proven HGA were identified in a prospective study conducted at the Department of Infectious Diseases, University Medical Center Ljubljana, Slovenia, on the etiology of febrile illnesses occurring within 30 days after a tick bite. The diagnosis of acute HGA was established from seroconversion in 18 (75%) patients or at least a four-fold increase in antibody titers to A. phagocytophilum antigens in six (25%) patients and molecular identification of ehrlichial organisms in 15 (62.5%) patients. Clinical characteristics and laboratory findings were similar to those reported from the other European countries. All the patients had an acute febrile illness with headache, malaise, myalgia and/or arthralgia. Leukopenia was found in 16 (66.7%) patients, thrombocytopenia in 20 (83.3%), abnormal liver function test results in 23 (95.8%), elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rates in 18 (75%), and elevated concentration of C-reactive protein in 23 (95.8%). The disease course was relatively mild; none of the patients died and no long-term sequelae were found during a follow-up of one year even though only 15 (62.5%) were treated with doxycycline. At the examination one year after the first visit, 16/24 (66.7%) patients tested seropositive (≥1 : 256) for A. phagocytophilum antibody, and two years after the first visit positive titers were still present in 10/18 (55.6%) patients.