Ehrlichiosis Medication

Updated: Oct 19, 2016
  • Author: Burke A Cunha, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
  • Print

Medication Summary

The preferred drug for human monocytic ehrlichiosis (HME) and human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA) is doxycycline. In contrast to RMSF, chloramphenicol is not effective in ehrlichiosis.

Antibiotic treatment should begin as soon as the diagnosis is ascertained. [10] Antipyretics may be necessary.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends doxycycline as first-line therapy for severe/life threatening suspected or proven HGA and HME. Ordinarily, tetracyclines are not administered to children younger than 8 years; however, chloramphenicol is the alternative treatment option. Oral chloramphenicol is no longer available in the United States. Thus, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends doxycycline because the benefits outweigh the risks.

Several case reports have detailed successful treatment of mild, non–life-threatening anaplasmosis (not ehrlichiosis) with rifampin in patients in whom doxycycline was contraindicated (eg, allergy, pregnancy).



Class Summary

Empiric antimicrobial therapy should cover the most likely pathogens in the context of the clinical setting.

Doxycycline (Vibramycin, Doryx, Adoxa)

This is a second-generation tetracycline. It is more active than tetracycline against many pathogens. Doxycycline has different pharmacokinetics and a different adverse effect profile from tetracycline.

Doxycycline inhibits protein synthesis and thus bacterial growth by binding with 30S and, possibly, 50S ribosomal subunits of susceptible bacteria.

Rifampin (Rifadin)

Rifampin inhibits ribonucleic acid (RNA) synthesis in bacteria by binding to the beta subunit of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)-dependent RNA polymerase, which, in turn, blocks RNA transcription.