Penny presents: FACTS ABOUT EHRLICHIOSIS:
1. Ehrlichia is a bacteria spread by ticks that hides inside of the pet’s blood cells and causes a variety of symptoms.
2. Penny’s heartworm test also showed that she is positive for ehrlichia
3. We had FIVE dogs test positive at Animal Care Clinic this week!
4. 300 military dogs died due to a form of ehrlichiosis during the Vietnam War.
5. Ehrlichia species are spread by the Brown Dog Tick and the Lone Star Tick.
6. People can get ehrlichiosis, too.
7. Symptoms start 1-3 weeks after exposure to an infected tick.
8. Symptoms can progress from fever, lethargy, and anorexia to low platelet counts, bone marrow suppression, and even death.
9. Treatment involves a long course on a tetracycline-class drug. Penny has been on minocycline twice a day for the past 3 weeks. She has one more week of treatment to go, and then she will undergo her heartworm treatment injections. Poor girl!
10. Hospitalization and intensive supportive care can be required for some patients.
11. Dogs can be naturally infected with at least 5 known Ehrlichia species, including E. canis, E. equi, E. risticii, and E. ewingii. Ehrlichia canis is the most common and causes the most severe disease.
12. Ehrlichia canis was discovered in Algeria in 1935.
13. The first case in the US was reported in 1963.
14. The subclinical phase of ehrlichiosis can last for years in dogs, where the Ehrlichia organism hides in the dog’s blood cells. This phase can be mild to severe, from vague illness and weight loss, to bone marrow suppression with a huge variety of symptoms.
15. The list of possible symptoms in dogs is long: anorexia, weight loss, respiratory distress, abnormal lymph nodes, depression, pale gums, abdominal pain, bleeding/hemorrhage, enlarged spleen/liver, abnormal lung sounds, abnormal heart rhythm, weak pulse, increased thirst and urination, stiff/swollen/painful joints, inflammation within the eye, meningitis, neurologic weakness, nerve reflex deficits, and seizures.
16. German Shepherd Dogs are thought to develop a more severe disease process with Ehrlichia than other breeds.
17. http://www.capcvet.org/parasite-prevalence-maps/ This interactive map shows the prevalence of Ehrlichia and other diseases. Missouri is in the HIGH risk zone for Ehrlichiosis with Taney county being a particular hot spot! Overall 50% of dogs tested are positive in our county! Yikes!
18. The good news is that Ehrlichia can be easy to diagnose with our in-clinic 4DX heartworm test. This test looks for heartworm disease, Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. The staff of Animal Care Clinic recommends this quick blood test be performed annually on every dog.
19. What can you do to protect your entire family from Ehrlichiosis? Steer clear of ticks! Make sure your dogs and cats are on good tick preventative program. If possible, keep dogs on leash when outside and keep cats indoors. Ticks are worst in areas of tall grass and brush, so avoid these areas to reduce risk of exposure. Use common-sense tick precautions with human family members. After outdoor walks, perform at thorough tick check, and don’t forget the folds of skin around your pet’s legs, under his collar, and in/around his ears. Don’t forget to check yourself, too!