What is ehrlichiosis? Ehrlichiosis is an emerging disease of dogs in Australia that occurs when a brown dog tick is infected with the bacteria Ehrlichia canis bites a dog. E. canis occurs around the world, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions. E. canis was confirmed for the first time in Australian dogs in May 2020 in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and June 2020 in the Northern Territory.
Infection with E. canis (Ehrlichiosis) is a notifiable disease in Australia. Dogs do not directly transmit the disease directly to each other. The disease is maintained by a cycle of transmission between ticks and dogs
Ehrlichiosis has three possible phases of the disease: an ‘acute’ phase or early signs of disease, a ‘subclinical phase’ where there are no obvious visible signs of disease and a ‘chronic’ or long-term stage. The severity of the disease varies considerably.
Your vet will take blood samples for testing to confirm a diagnosis of Ehrlichiosis. Blood tests are needed as the disease can look like other tick-borne diseases in WA such as anaplasmosis in dogs. Ehrlichiosis is treated with antibiotics, and supportive care and may require hospitalisation depending on the severity of the infection. Early treatment by your vet provides the best chance of recovery.