Recent Emergence of Anaplasma phagocytophilum in Ontario, Canada: Early Serological and Entomological Indicators.Am J Trop Med Hyg 2019; 101(6):1249-1258AJ
Human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), caused by the bacteria Anaplasma phagocytophilum, is transmitted to humans by blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) in eastern North America. To assess the emergence of A. phagocytophilum in Ontario, we analyzed patient serological and clinical data in combination with pathogen detection in blacklegged ticks from 2011 to 2017. Our sample population included all patients who had Anaplasma serological testing ordered by their physicians (n = 851). Eighty-three patients (10.8%) were A. phagocytophilum seropositive (IgG titers ≥ 1:64) and 686 (89.2%) were seronegative (IgG titers < 1:64). Applying published surveillance case definitions, we classified zero as confirmed, five as probable, and 78 as suspected cases. The percentage of seropositive patients remained generally stable at 13.6%. Seropositive patients were most often adult females, 40-59 years of age, and reported nonspecific signs and symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, and fever. Higher seropositivity rates (≥ 1.5 patients per 100,000 population) occurred in eastern and northwestern Ontario. The percentage of A. phagocytophilum-positive blacklegged ticks, through passive and active surveillance, was 0.4 and 1.1%, respectively, and increased over time. Serological and entomological indicators of A. phagocytophilum activity increased in areas of the province with established blacklegged tick populations. The risk of HGA is presently low in Ontario; however, further research is required to document the epidemiology of HGA in the province. To minimize the impact of HGA emergence in Ontario, increased awareness and education of the public and health-care providers is recommended, with consideration to making HGA a reportable infection in Ontario.