POTENTIAL DISEASE OUTBREAK: A warning has been put out to vets across Australia about a deadly tick-borne disease. Picture: iStock
POTENTIAL DISEASE OUTBREAK: A warning has been put out to vets across Australia about a deadly tick-borne disease. Picture: iStock

Burnett vets wary of new infectious tick-borne disease

DOG owners and veterinarians are being urged to help keep dogs safe from a tick-borne disease detected for the first time in Australia.

Queensland's Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Allison Crook said ehrlichiosis had recently been detected in dogs in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

"Ehrlichiosis, which occurs worldwide, is a tick-borne disease caused by the bacteria Ehrlichia canis (E. canis)," she said.

"Dogs become infected after being bitten by an infected tick, typically the brown dog tick, which is common in most areas of Australia, including Queensland.

 

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"Although infected dogs do not directly transmit the disease to other dogs or people, in rare cases, people can become infected from a tick bite."

Following the recent detections in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, Dr Crook said Biosecurity Queensland was undertaking surveillance to determine whether E. canis was present in Queensland dogs.

"While E. canis hasn't been found in dogs in Queensland, we are alert to the possibility of cases," Dr Crook said.

"To assist Biosecurity Queensland's surveillance program, veterinarians are urged to submit samples for testing from dogs showing signs consistent with ehrlichiosis."

Kingaroy veterinarian Stephen Upton said while he hasn't seen any cases in the region yet, he is urging residents to look for the symptoms.

"You'll see your dog become lethargic, have enlarged lymph nodes, loss of appetite, kidney problems, weight loss, fever and more," he said.

 

Rhipicephalus sanguineus, or the 'brown dog tick' has been spotted in WA, with QLD vets warning pet owners to stay cautious. Picture: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA.
Rhipicephalus sanguineus, or the 'brown dog tick' has been spotted in WA, with QLD vets warning pet owners to stay cautious. Picture: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA.

"I haven't seen any in Kingaroy as of yet, but prevention is always the best defence."

Mr Upton is encouraging dog owners to also vaccinate against the deadly parvovirus disease, after a recent outbreak in Nanango this year.

"That's coming under control now, but it's highly important dogs are being vaccinated now, as it usually comes out in Spring," Mr Upton said.

"I saw two cases in Kingaroy and then several in Nanango, where one dog contracted it without even leaving his owner's vehicle.

"It's a highly infection disease, more infectious than COVID believe it or not."

Dr Crook said to help prevent the spread of this tick disease, dog owners should maintain an effective tick control program, avoid taking dogs into tick-infested area such as the bush where possible, and inspect dogs for ticks after being in tick-infested areas and carefully remove ticks.