10 February 2021.

Working Dogs - by Heather Elliott, Glenample, Aramac 2007

AgForce members are urged to be aware of symptoms of a new dog disease spread by common brown dog ticks.

The bacterial infection canine ehrlichiosis was first detected in May 2020 in Western Australia and the Northern Territory and is now affecting dogs in South Australia.

Symptoms include fever, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, discharge from eyes and nose, weight loss, anaemia and bleeding disorders, and if not treated properly, can lead to death.

Although the disease is not currently in Queensland, experts warn if it came here, tick-infested wild dogs could spread it and put working dogs at risk.

Producers are being asked to consider revising their farm biosecurity plans if they have working dogs and farm visitors/tourists arriving with their own dogs – especially if they are from interstate.

They should also be aware of popular roadside rest spots for interstate travellers, and avoid letting their own working dogs out at these areas.

Regular tick control for dogs is also advised (regular treatments with a tablet, spot-on or tick collar), and dog owners should regularly inspect their dog for ticks.

Dogs infected with the disease cannot transmit it to other dogs – the only way transmission can occur is through infected ticks.

The brown dog tick is found across tropical and sub-tropical Australia, so it is possible that infected ticks will eventually be found in other regions as well.

Ehrlichiosis is a nationally notifiable disease. This means if you suspect your dog is showing signs of the disease you must take it to your local vet for examination and blood tests.

If your vet confirms Ehrlichiosis in your dog, they should report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or by phoning the national Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Infected dogs do not transmit Ehrlichiosis to people, however, infected ticks may infect people in rare cases. The Australian Government Department of Health has information on their website about ticks and human health precautions.