Elwin said he first started feeling fatigued and getting flu-like symptoms on a Friday in mid-September 2015. By the weekend he could barely move, with symptoms that included fever, chills, sweating, and aches and pains.
“I was lying in bed all day because of the pain in my shoulders, arms and head,” he said. “Everything hurt.”
He went to his primary care doctor on Monday, where he tested positive for anaplasmosis, and was given antibiotics. He spent a few hours at Miles Memorial Hospital’s emergency department later that week after he felt dehydrated. He was given fluids and sent home. Later, he also tested positive for Lyme.
Elwin said he didn’t know he had been bitten by a tick.
Elwin said ever since his anaplasmosis diagnosis, he’s felt terrible and been unable to work full time at carpentry, which was how he made his living. He is still trying to do carpentry as a hobby but finds activities beyond reading difficult. Elwin also tested positive for anaplasmosis in October 2016, according to medical records he provided to the Press Herald.
“I’ve read all the Greek tragedies. I never knew I wanted to do that, but now I have,” Elwin said.
Dr. Heidi Heap-Chester, Elwin’s primary care doctor, said Elwin has tested positive for “multiple tick-borne diseases.”
“Anaplasmosis is becoming more frequent in Maine and particularly emergency room and urgent care sites need to be aware that a ‘summer flu’ in an endemic area is anaplasmosis until proven otherwise,” Heap-Chester said.
Anaplasmosis responds well to antibiotic treatment if caught early, but it’s difficult to catch early.
Prevention is also key. Wear long clothing and repellents when in tick habitat, such as the woods, and when picking up dead wood or leaves. Check often for ticks, which are difficult to see. Lubelczyk said one of the more common ways to pick up a tick is from your pet. The tick that’s on your pet can drop off after feeding and crawl on you.
People who do find a tick on them should remove it immediately and have it tested. In most cases, ticks need to be attached to a human for 36 hours before diseases can be transmitted.