What is it?
Infectious disease caused by four different bacteria; Ehrlichia canis, E. chaffeensis, E. ewingii, and E. ruminantium.
Who is susceptible to it?
Ehrlichiosis can affect dogs, cats, horses, cattle, birds, wild animals and people.
How does it spread?
Ticks transmit the organism. However the bacteria is not injected into the host animal until the tick has been attached for 10 to 24 hours.
Time line from exposure to signs?
Signs begin within days, weeks, or even months.
What are the symptoms?
Signs of Ehrlichiosis are vague and somewhat similar to those seen with Lyme disease and RMSF. Signs include; depression, lethargy, decreased appetite, weight loss, fever, pale mucous membranes, swollen lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, bleeding tendencies, vomiting, difficulty walking, seizures, lameness secondary to joint pain, edema (fluid collection at the extremities), kidney and liver failure.
There are 3 phases to the disease:
Acute – Pets get acutely sick.
Sub clinical – May last years, pets are not necessarily ill.
Chronic – Usually related with mild chronic disease.
Is there a test for it?
Yes, there are two different tests.
A blood Snap test done in the hospital, results available in 10 minutes.
Two blood samples are collected (the first collected while the animal is sick and the second collected 3 weeks later) and sent to the laboratory.
How is it treated?
The response to treatment depends on the pet’s general health and resistance to disease. Some pets will require hospitalization while others will require simple antibiotic therapy. Treatment requires at least 4 weeks of antibiotic therapy. Often times pets will continue to test positive for the disease and have recurrence of the disease at a later time.
Cleaning the environment?
Keep pets away from areas infested with ticks. Keep the yard free of bushes or places where ticks may like to hide.
Is there a vaccine?
No. Use a tick preventive product like Frontline, Promeris, Advantage multi or Advantix.
Risk for humans?
Humans can be infected directly by a tick bite. A person is unlikely to contract the disease from a pet unless he was to remove an unattached tick from the pet and allow the tick to feed on him.