There has been a home-grown case of the deadly dog disease ehrlichiosis in Queensland.
North-west Queensland has been added to the growing list of areas where the disease is spreading.
Animal experts say it is only a matter of time before every dog in Australia is at risk from the disease.
Ehrlichiosis, which was only discovered in the Kimberley in May 2020, has now spread to most Australian states, bar Tasmania, where border checks are trying to keep the disease at bay.
The disease is spread by the brown dog tick which is prevalent across northern Australia but has been found across the mainland.
Queensland has had previous cases of ehrlichiosis but only from dogs transported across from the Northern Territory.
Thousands of dogs have died in the Territory since the first cases were discovered there in June 2020.
Areas where ehrlichiosis is "known to be active" now include - the entire NT, the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia, northern South Australia and now northwest Queensland.
Movements of dogs from these areas must be managed.
Biosecurity Queensland says this latest case was confirmed in a dog from Mount Isa several weeks ago which had not travelled outside Queensland - meaning the disease had infected the local tick population.
A spokeswoman for the Agriculture and Fisheries Department said the case was confirmed by the government's Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory on January 25.
The dog was taken to a Mount Isa vet on January 19 where it had clinical signs consistent with ehrlichiosis including the presence of ticks.
The dog's condition improved after being treated by the veterinarian, the spokeswoman said.
"Biosecurity Queensland is investigating the dog's movements to determine where the dog became infected and is working with the relevant groups to minimise the risk of further infections.
"Although they can vary considerably among dogs, signs typically include fever, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, loss of appetite, discharge from the eyes and nose, weight loss, and anaemia and bleeding disorders."
Everyone involved with dogs has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) under the Biosecurity Act 2014 to take all reasonable steps to ensure they do not spread a pest, disease or contaminant, including E canis.
Ehrlichiosis is a nationally notifiable disease and anyone who suspects a dog is showing signs of the disease must report it immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
The disease had also been found in Victoria and NSW but from dogs which had travelled to the high risk areas.
There are concerted campaigns under way across northern Australia about tick treatment for dogs to try and halt its treatment.
The removal of COVID-19 road blocks to prevent travel during the pandemic had also slowed the spread of the disease.
"Ehrlichiosis can make dogs very sick - and without treatment can kill them," Biosecurity Queensland said in a Facebook post.
"Dogs that are sick with this disease get a fever, look very tired, do not want to eat and lose weight.
"Their eyes can also go blue and mucky, and they can get nose bleeds.
"It is important you use anti tick products on your dogs to stop the ticks from biting them and spreading the disease.
"If your dog is sick, make sure you take it to a vet."
The wet season is known to be the worst time for the spread of ticks.
The best protection is an external tick control product that kills brown dog ticks on contact, before the tick can attach to your dog.
Owners are also advised to regularly inspect their dog for ticks paying particular attention to the head and neck, inside their ears, on their chest, between their toes and around their mouth and gums.
Biosecurity officials have still not be able to explain how ehrlichiosis arrived in Australia despite concerted efforts over many years to keep it out.
Ehrlichiosis is second only to rabies as the canine killer the country was trying to stop arriving.
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