Ehrlichiosis confirmed in dogs in the Kimberley

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) advises that ehrlichiosis, a tick-borne disease caused by the bacteria E. canis, has been detected in a small number of dogs in the Kimberley region.

Laboratory testing was undertaken by the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (formerly the Australian Animal Health Laboratory), with the diagnosis confirmed on 30 May 2020.

This is the first detection of infection with E. canis (ehrlichiosis) in Australian dogs that have not been imported from overseas. The dogs, located in Halls Creek and Kununurra, were sampled and treated by a private vet. DPIRD is working with the private vet to manage the dogs.

Infection with E. canis is a nationally notifiable disease in Australia. If you have a suspect case of ehrlichiosis, please contact your DPIRD vet or the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on 1800 675 888 so the Department can assist with managing the case and advise on sampling requirements.

E. canis occurs worldwide, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions. It is transmitted primarily by the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus).

There is no change in the distribution of the brown dog tick.

DPIRD has produced a factsheet for vets with more information about the disease, clinical signs, diagnosis and prevention.

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

DPIRD will undertake surveillance in the region to delineate the incident and estimate the prevalence of disease. DPIRD will be in contact with veterinarians in the Kimberley to discuss how they can be involved with the surveillance.

While the distribution of E. canis is determined, there are dog movement restrictions in place to reduce the spread of the disease, under the Exotic Diseases of Animals Act 1993 Control Order No. 1/2020, from the Kimberley region (Controlled Area Order No.1/2020). These conditions include prior notification of the movement of dogs travelling out of the Kimberley, and the dog to be tick treated and healthy. Please refer to the Dog movement conditions webpage for more information.

If you need further information, please contact Dr Marion Seymour, (Acting) Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, Animal Biosecurity and Welfare, marion.seymour@dpird.wa.gov.au, (08) 9651 0534, 0427 420 176