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Ehrlichia, Molecular Detection

Molecular testing for Ehrlichia is used to definitively diagnose and document ehrlichiosis.

Ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis are a group of tick-borne infectious zoonoses caused by the very related species Ehrlichia and Anaplasma, respectively. These microorganisms have obligatory intracellular lives, are Gram-negative, belong to the rickettsia group of microorganisms, infect leukocytes and cause a potentially serious inflammatory disease in humans.

Human monocytic ehrlichiosis is caused by the species Ehrlichia chaffeensis, which is transmitted by the tick Amblyomma americanum and is epidemiologically predominant in US areas. Ehrlichia ewingii and Ehrlichia canis, the cause of the dog's granulocytic ehrlichiosis, can sometimes cause disease in humans. The clinical and laboratory findings are similar to those of E. chaffeensis infection.

Most cases of anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis are subclinical or mild, but the infection can become serious and life-threatening in some patients, mainly immunosuppressed. Symptoms such as fever, fatigue, general malaise, headache, and other "flu" symptoms, including myalgia, joints, and nausea, are more common. The involvement of the central nervous system can lead to convulsions and coma.

Diagnosis of the disease can be difficult as the clinical course of the patient is often mild and without specific symptoms. Symptoms can easily be attributed to other diseases, such as influenza or other zoonoses such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever. Indications for the diagnosis of ehrlichiosis in a patient after known exposure to ticks include laboratory findings such as leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and elevated serum transaminases which, while frequently present, are not specific. Rarely, intracellular microorganisms can be observed in peripheral blood smears, but this is not a reliable indicator for the diagnosis of human ehrlichiosis or anaplasmosis.

The definitive diagnosis of the disease is achieved by the molecular PCR method.



Important Note

Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".

Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.

At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.

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