Published on: 12 Mar, 2021
🚨 Here’s what you need to know about the tick-borne disease Ehrlichiosis
What is Ehrlichiosis
AMRRIC defines Ehrlichiosis (pronounced Err-lick-ee-o-sis) as a “tick-borne disease caused by the bacteria Ehrlichia Canis. The bacteria lives in the blood of infected dogs, and is spread by Brown Dog Ticks.”
Infected dogs cannot spread the disease to other dogs, however, transmission can occur through infected ticks, such as the Brown Dog Ticks, which are widespread in mainland Australia. People cannot get Ehrlichiosis directly from dogs. In rare cases, if a tick carrying Ehrlichia Canis bites a person, the person might get sick. Read more about tick bite prevention.
Although tick-borne diseases have been reported in Australia in the past, Ehrlichiosis seems to have had a severe impact. This could possibly be due to the fact that being new to Australia, dogs have not yet developed immunity to it, or some dogs may have pre-existing diseases such as Parvovirus or Babesiosis which could worsen their condition. It could also be owing to the fact that the bacterial strain of Ehrlichia Canis present in Australia is a particularly severe strain.
📌 Areas with confirmed cases
At the beginning of 2021, more than 300 dogs tested positive for Ehrlichiosis in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The number could be higher when factoring in untested dogs that succumbed to the disease. Cases have been confirmed in dogs in regional and rural areas including:
the Kimberley regions of Broome and Derby,
Pilbara regions of South Hedland and Port Hedland,
Northern Territory town of Katherine,
and a remote community west of Alice Springs.
Ticks infected with the bacteria that caused Ehrlichiosis were also found in South Australia’s far north.
🚗 What you need to know about moving dogs
According to the National Pest and Disease Outbreak website, the following movement conditions are in place:
If you are located in WA or NT
Movement conditions are in place for dogs travelling out of the Kimberley in WA to southern areas of WA.
Conditions are also in place on dogs entering southern WA from the Northern Territory.
Owners of infected dogs in both Western Australia and the Northern Territory have been advised not to move them out of the area.
Get more information on dog movement for WA here.
If you are moving dogs to QLD OR NSW
People moving dogs into Queensland and NSW must, under state legislation, meet General Biosecurity Obligations. This means dog owners must take reasonable and practical steps to prevent the introduction of E canis. These steps could include testing the dogs prior to movement and only travelling with healthy dogs that are on an effective tick control program.
🩺 Common symptoms:
Ehrlichiosis can have a short and long term effect on dogs. Initial signs can include dogs getting sleepy quite often (or outside of their usual routine), loss of appetite and weight loss. These symptoms may last two to four weeks, and it is important to get them checked by your vet.
Other symptoms can include cloudy or sore eyes, pain and stiffness, and bleeding disorders such as nosebleeds.
Please read about detailed symptoms on the AMRRIC website.
✔️ What you can do:
Ensure that you take necessary tick prevention measures for dogs in your care as recommended by your vet.
Check your dogs for ticks regularly, particularly if they have arrived or have been rescued from a tick-infested area.
Inform your vet if dogs in your care have travelled from tick-infested areas.
Be on the lookout for common symptoms and contact your vet immediately if you think dogs in your care may have any. Additionally, advise any foster carers you have in listed or surrounding areas to do the same.
Share resources and raise awareness on your website or social media handles to keep pet owners and adopters informed.
If you have adopters from affected areas, make sure you ask them if they have any resident dogs that have experienced any of these symptoms or have been tested for Ehrlichiosis recently.
Read up on the resources listed below to understand more about Ehrlichiosis, including symptoms, precaution and management.
Get more information from the following sources: