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SOURCES (partly): http://www.peteducation.com/ and http://www.petmd.com/dog   

Ehrliquia (canine ehrlichiosis) and Rickettsia are diseases of dogs and wild canids (e.g. wolves) and is found worldwide. They are also known by other names such as 'tracker dog disease', 'tropical canine pancytopenia', 'canine hemorrhagic fever' and 'canine typhus'.

Infection:
Ehrlichia and Rickettsia are transmitted by ticks. The immature form of the tick feeds on an animal infected with Ehrlichia/Rickettsia. When these immature ticks or a mature form of the tick feeds on another animal, the Ehrlichia/Rickettsia is passed on to that animal. The Ehrlichia/Rickettsia can remain alive in the developing tick for up to 5 months. This means a tick could become infected in the fall, and infect a dog the following spring. Because Ehrlichia/Rickettsia is a tick-borne infection, it is not unusual for infected dogs to have other tick-borne infections such as Babesia.

Diagnosis and symptoms:
Ehrlichia/Rickettsia can have three phases. Signs of the acute phase of the disease usually develop 1-3 weeks after the bite of the infected tick. The acute phase of the disease generally lasts 2-4 weeks. The Ehrlichia enters white blood cells and reproduce inside of them. In addition to the blood, these cells are found in the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and bone marrow. Platelets, the small cell fragments that help blood to clot, are often destroyed, as well. Rickettsiae are a type of bacteria that inhabit the body's white blood cells, which are destroyed in the process. As a result of the infection, the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen are often enlarged.

* Anemia,

* fever,

* depression,

* lethargy,

* loss of appetite,

* shortness of breath,

* joint pain and stiffness,

* bruises

are often seen. Many dogs will be able to fight off the infection. If not, they enter the subclinical phase.
In the subclinical phase the animal may appear normal or show only slight anemia. During this phase the Ehrlichia/Ricketsia lives inside the spleen. This phase can last for months or years. Ultimately, the dog either eliminates it from the body or the infection may progress to the chronic phase.

The chronic phase can be either mild or severe.

* Weight loss,

* anemia,

* neurological signs,

* bleeding, * inflammation of the eye,

* edema (fluid accumulation) in the hind legs

* fever

Testing:
The diagnosis is based on the typical clinical signs and results of special blood tests. A positive test demonstrates that the dog has been exposed to Ehrlichia, but not that he necessarily is currently infected. In the acute stage of the disease, the antibody level will rise significantly. Often two tests will be done 2 weeks apart and the results compared. Dogs with an active infection will show a significant rise in the amount of antibody present.

Prevention:
The secret of keeping the dog free of Ehrlichia and Rickettsia is good tick control. Check your pet and yourself daily for ticks and remove them. Be particularly thorough in brushing and combing if your pet has been in high weeds or brush. In removing the ticks try not to crush them. The best way I have found to remove them is to grasp the ticks mouth parts as close to the skin as possible with a pair of small tweezers and pull the tick away removing all of the head a small tag of skin. The best prevention are spot-ons that repell ticks (like Pulvex, Frontline, Advantix, etc.) that need to be put every for weeks and anti-repellent collars that have a durability of around 4 months.

Treatment:
The antibiotics: tetracycline or doxycycline are used. Treatment is usually for 3-4 weeks, even though the dog's symptoms generally improve after several days of therapy. Some dogs will need blood transfusions or intravenous fluids depending on the severity of the disease. Generally, the prognosis during the acute phase is good, if the animal is properly treated. Dogs that go on to the chronic phase of Ehrliquia have a poorer prognosis. German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers tend to have a more severe chronic form of the disease.

There is no vaccine.

 

ATTENTION: these are only general tips, every treatment is on case by case basis so if your dog has this disease you should consult the vet.