News & Media

Ehrlichiosis in dogs – WA surveillance update

Released on

Released on:
Thursday, 25. June 2020 - 10:15

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has confirmed further detections of the exotic disease ehrlichiosis in dogs in the State’s north.

The disease has also been recently found in a small number of dogs in the Northern Territory.

DPIRD Chief Veterinary Officer Michelle Rodan said officers had been working closely with private veterinarians in Western Australia to carry out surveillance and testing in dogs, after the disease was confirmed in the Kununurra and Halls Creek areas in May.

“Further cases have been found in the Kimberley region, including in the shires of Broome and Derby-West Kimberley,” Dr Rodan said.

“DPIRD has advised private veterinarians treating the dogs of these test results.

“The disease has also been detected in a dog from South Hedland, in the Pilbara. DPIRD is liaising with the private vet to investigate the travel history of this dog and is working with private vets to extend the surveillance program into the region.”

Ehrlichiosis occurs when a dog is bitten by a tick infected with the bacteria Ehrlichia canis.

Dog owners are encouraged to look for signs of ehrlichiosis in their dogs – which can include fever, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, loss of appetite, weight loss and bleeding disorders.

“To help reduce the risk of infection, owners in brown dog tick areas should treat their dogs, dog bedding and environment for ticks,” Dr Rodan said.

“Visitors to northern WA should also ensure their dog is on an effective tick treatment before bringing them north.

“Tick treatments vary, so speak to your vet about which treatment would be most suitable for your dog.

“It is also important to check dogs regularly for ticks and remove if found.”

Anyone who suspects their dog has the disease should contact their private vet, a DPIRD vet or the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on 1800 675 888.

Dog owners in WA are reminded that conditions apply to the movement of dogs out of the Kimberley in order to reduce the risk of spreading this disease further south. These conditions apply both to residents and visitors.

More information about ehrlichiosis in dogs and movements requirements is available on the DPIRD website.

The national Consultative Committee of Emergency Animal Diseases is meeting to discuss the response to the new detections in NT and WA.

Infected dogs do not directly transmit ehrlichiosis to people, however in rare cases, infected ticks may transmit E. canis to people. See the WA Department of Health website for information on human health implications associated with ticks, as well as prevention, removal and first aid advice.

Media contacts:

Jodie Thomson/Megan Broad, media liaison             +61 (0)8 9368 3937