Dog disease case confirmed in South Australia

A fast spreading deadly dog disease case has been confirmed in South Australia

Sheepmeat
DOG KILLER: The disease is not breed specific and is carried across Australia by the common brown tick.

DOG KILLER: The disease is not breed specific and is carried across Australia by the common brown tick.

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The deadly arrival of a disease in dogs has been confirmed in South Australia.

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The deadly arrival of a disease in dogs has been confirmed in South Australia.

Infected ticks have been found in the state before, but this is the first confirmed clinical case of ehrlichiosis in a dog.

The discovery of the diseased dog and more infected ticks "indicate the disease is now established in South Australia", the state's chief veterinary officer Dr Mary Carr said.

Ehrlichiosis has been already been found in Western Australia, the Northern Territory with cases among traveling dogs found in Queensland and New South Wales.

In just a year, thousands of dogs are believed to have died across northern Australia from the tick-borne disease.

One in 10 Australian dogs,which have so far contracted the disease ehrlichiosis, have died.

Ehrlichiosis causes fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, abnormal bleeding, pain and weight loss and, if not quickly treated, death.

After long and expensive efforts over many years to keep the killer out of Australia, it was discovered in WA early last year.

Ehrlichiosis uses ticks as a vector to spread from dog to dog and is expected to become endemic across mainland Australia.

Its arrival has been described as "a disaster" by biosecurity experts - there is no vaccine against it.

South Australia's first confirmed clinical case was detected in a dog living in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the far north of the state, it was announced late last week.

The first common brown ticks carrying ehrlichiosis were discovered in the APY Lands in January.

Dr Carr has urged dog owners to ensure dogs are on an appropriate tick repellent program.

"The ticks and the dog with the disease were found in APY Lands communities and surrounding areas, so dogs living and travelling in the far northern areas where tick numbers are higher remain at the highest risk," she said.

"The best way to protect dogs from this disease is by preventing tick bites, so talk to your vet about a tick repellent program. You should also check your dogs every day for ticks, and avoid areas likely to be tick-infested.

"If your dog gets sick, tell your vet, including where and when you've travelled.

"Dog owners in remote communities can reach out to local services like Nganampa Health Council which may provide advice and support for animal health.

"Ehrlichiosis is a nationally notifiable disease, which means if you suspect your dog is showing signs of the disease, you should seek veterinary confirmation. Your vet can access subsidised laboratory testing and report the disease by calling the national Emergency Animal Disease Watch hotline on 1800 675 888."

Dog owners in the affected communities have been advised not to move their dogs around unless healthy and free of ticks.

Dr Carr said infected dog ticks are most likely to be present in remote far northern areas of the state.

"At present, it is unlikely that dogs in the southern parts of South Australia will be infected, unless they have recently travelled to or have come from areas where infected ticks occur."

Infected dogs do not transmit ehrlichiosis to people, however, in rare cases, ticks may infect people.

The federal Department of Health has information on their website about ticks and human health precautions.

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