Health Articles

Anaplasmosis

What is Anaplasmosis?

Canine Anaplasmosis is caused by one of two bacterial agents, Anaplasma phagocytophilum or Anaplasma platys. Infection with A. phagocytophilum, the species more commonly associated with Anaplasmosis, causes lameness and is often confused with Lyme disease. Infection with A. platys results in a cyclic thrombocytopenia low platelets). Both types of anaplasmosis spread by ticks and occur worldwide.
 
Can Anaplasmosis also affect people?
Yes, but people do not get it directly from dogs. They get it from being bitten by the same ticks that transmit it to dogs. Therefore, preventing exposure to ticks is important for you and your dog.
 
What is the difference between an Acute and a Chronic infection?
Clinical disease in dogs is most often associated with the acute, bacteremic phase of infection. The duration and severity of the clinical findings during the acute phase of the disease can vary greatly and can last from one to several days.
Chronic, subclinical, persistent infections have been documented for more than five-and-a-half months.  However, no confirmed reports of clinical disease occurring in animals known to be chronic carriers exist. It is unknown whether a chronic carrier state can later result in chronic disease.
 
What are the clinical signs?
  • Anaplasma phagocytophilum
Animals with clinical disease associated with acute infection often have vague signs of illness including fever, lethargy, malaise, anorexia, and general muscle pain resulting in reluctance to move.
The most frequently observed clinical findings in dogs that would alert you to A. phagocytophilum infection are joint pain and lameness. Other less commonly observed clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, coughing and labored breathing. Central nervous system disease (meningitis) can also occur, resulting in seizure activity, ataxia, or neurologic manifestations such as dullness or stupor, but these findings are infrequently observed.
 
  • Anaplasma platys
Most dogs with naturally occurring infection have mild clinical disease, although more severe clinical signs of fever, lethargy, bleeding disorders and enlarged lymph nodes can occur. As with other tick-transmitted diseases, coinfection of A. platys with other infectious agents such as Ehrlichia, Bartonella, or Borrelia species can result in more severe clinical manifestations.
 
How is Anaplasmosis diagnosed?
Serologic testing. BothAnaplasma phagocytophilum and Anaplasma platys infection can be diagnosed with a simple in-house blood test (ELISA, SNAP 4D).   This test is part of our Heartworm test, so all of our patients are being tested once a year.
Laboratory test results. Abnormalities in laboratory test results may vary during the acute phase of the disease. Test results will likely be normal in persistently infected, subclinical carriers. The most common blood test abnormality noted in clinically affected dogs is a mild to severe thrombocytopenia (decreased platelets), seen in more than 80% of acutely infected dogs.  Also a mild to moderate anemia (decreased red blood cells) is occasionally seen.  Common serum biochemical abnormalities include elevated serum alkaline phosphatase activity and mild to moderate hypoalbuminemia.
 
How is Anaplasmosis disease treated?
The treatment for canine Anaplasmosis is the same as that for infection with the closely related Ehrlichia species—doxycycline. An oral dosage of doxycycline for 30 days has been recommended. In most cases, clinical signs resolve rapidly. Dogs are often markedly improved 24 to 48 hours after therapy is instituted, and the prognosis for clinical recovery is excellent.
Although clinical resolution of disease is usually accomplished, it may be difficult to ascertain the effectiveness of therapy in completely clearing organisms from naturally infected animals.
 
How can I prevent my dog from getting Anaplasmosis?
The key to prevention is keeping your dog from being exposed to ticks. Ticks are found in grassy, wooded, and sandy areas. They find their way onto an animal by climbing to the top of a leaf, blade of grass, or short trees, especially Cedar trees. Here they wait until their sensors detect a close-by animal on which to crawl or drop. Keeping animals from thick underbrush reduces their exposure to ticks. Dogs should be kept on trails when walked near wooded or tall grass areas.  Also using a a product like Frontline Plus or Advantix on a monthly basis.
 
How do I remove a tick from my dog?
Check your pet immediately after it has been in a tick-infected area. The Deer Tick is a small tick and only about pinhead size in juvenile stage, but a little more obvious in adult phase and after feeding. If you find a tick moving on your pet, the tick has not fed. Remove the tick promptly and place it in rubbing alcohol or crush it between two solid surfaces. If you find a tick attached to your pet, grasp the tick with fine tweezers or your fingernails near the dog’s skin and firmly pull it straight out. You may need another person to help restrain your dog. Removing the tick quickly is important since the disease is not transmitted until the tick has fed for approximately 12 hours. If you crush the tick, do not get the tick’s contents, including blood, on your skin. The spirochete that causes Lyme disease can pass through a wound or cut in your skin.
 
Is there a vaccine that will protect my dog from Anaplasmosis?
A vaccine is not available at this time.
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