News & Media

Ehrlichiosis surveillance update for WA

Released on

Released on:
Monday, 10. August 2020 - 9:30

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has recorded further cases of the exotic disease ehrlichiosis in dogs in the State’s north.

DPIRD officers have been working closely with private veterinarians in Western Australia to carry out surveillance and testing in dogs after the disease was first detected in the East Kimberley in May.

DPIRD Chief Veterinary Officer Michelle Rodan said surveillance had shown the disease was established in the Kimberley region, and conditions applied to dogs being moved out the area.

“Surveillance is now being targeted to the Pilbara and Gascoyne to determine the distribution of the disease in these areas,” Dr Rodan said.

“We have been working closely with private vets to identify any suspicious cases for testing in the Gascoyne and Pilbara, and to date the disease has only been detected in isolated cases – in four dogs in South Hedland and most recently in a dog in Carnarvon.

“Very few dogs are being presented at vet practices in this area with signs consistent with ehrlichiosis.”

Ehrlichiosis in dogs is caused by the bite of an infected brown dog tick, which is prevalent in northern Australia.

“Visitors to the Kimberley, Pilbara and Gascoyne should be aware of the risk to their dogs from ehrlichiosis and should visit their vet for advice on a suitable tick treatment before travelling to the region,” Dr Rodan said.

“Owners in affected areas are encouraged to treat their dogs for ticks regularly, as well as their bedding and the yard and to check their dogs for ticks daily, especially around the neck, head, ears, armpits, belly and in between toes.

“Contact your vet or 1800 675 888 if your dog is showing any of the signs of ehrlichiosis – which can include fever, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, loss of appetite, weight loss and bleeding disorders. Quick treatment gives the best chance of recovery.”

Visit the DPIRD website for more information about the disease signs and movement conditions.

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