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Information for Public Health Officials

How to Contact the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch at CDC

The general public and healthcare providers should first call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) for questions regarding ehrlichiosis and other rickettsial diseases. If a consultation with a CDC scientist specializing in rickettsial diseases is advised, your call will be appropriately forwarded.

Case Definition

  • Ehrlichioses are nationally notifiable conditions and cases should be reported to your state or local health department according to local laws.
  • Cases are identified using a standard case definition established by the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE).
  • The case definition for Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis were last updated in 2008:

2008 case definition

In 2008, the ehrlichiosis case definition was split into four categories:

  1. Ehrlichia chaffeensis infection
  2. E. ewingii infection
  3. Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection
  4. Undetermined ehrlichiosis/anaplasmosis

Infections from the recently discovered E. muris eauclairensis are still reported under the undetermined ehrlichiosis/anaplasmosis category.

Case Report Form

  • Confirmed and probable cases of ehrlichiosis are reported through the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System; states are also encouraged to submit additional information using the Tickborne rickettsial disease case report form (CRF).
  • This form collects additional important information that might not otherwise be reported to CDC, such as information on how the diagnosis was made, and whether the patient was hospitalized or died.
  • If a different state-specific form is already used to collect this information, this information can be submitted to CDC in lieu of a CRF.

Tickborne rickettsial disease case report form [PDF – 3 pages]

How to Submit Specimens to CDC for Ehrlichiosis Testing

  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and serologic assays for the diagnosis of ehrlichiosis are available through many commercial and state laboratories. Routine testing should primarily use these testing options.
  • Samples may be sent to CDC for confirmatory testing or with special permission from the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch.

State Health Departments

  • Specimens may be submitted to CDC for testing of rickettsial diseases, including ehrlichiosis.
  • To coordinate specimen submission, please call 404-639-1075 during business hours (8:00 – 4:30 EST).

US Healthcare Providers

  • US healthcare providers should submit specimens through their health department for testing. Do not send specimens directly to CDC.
  • CDC policy requires that specimens be submitted through, or with the approval of, the provider’s state health department.
  • Please contact your state health department to assist you with specimen submission and reporting of an infected patient.
  • Final reports of test results are returned to the state public health laboratory who is responsible for providing these reports to the primary submitter.

Who May Submit Specimens to CDC

For general questions about ehrlichiosis or other rickettsial diseases, please call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636). If you have questions about a suspect case, please first consult your state health department. Healthcare providers requiring an epidemiologic consultation on rickettsial diseases may also call 404-639-1075 during business hours (8:00 – 4:30 EST) or 770-488-7100 after hours.

Non-US Healthcare Providers

Non-US healthcare providers should consult CDC prior to submitting specimens for testing. For general questions about ehrlichiosis or other rickettsial diseases, please call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or (888-232-6348). If you would like to discuss a suspect rickettsial case with CDC, please call 404-639-1075 during business hours (8:00 – 4:30 EST) or 770-488-7100 after hours.

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