"If you have good tick control thats a key thing right now."

Katie Woolf spoke with NT Veterinary Services Senior Vet Alex Burleigh.

According to Alex Burleigh "If you have good tick control thats a key thing right now."


Ehrlichiosis is a disease spread by the brown dog tick. It primarily affects dogs. It can result in death if not properly treated.

In very rare cases, infected ticks may infect people. Infections in people are usually easy to treat.

Dog owners should have their dogs on a tick control program, regularly check their dogs for ticks and be on the lookout for signs of the disease.

How it is spread:

Dogs become infected with the bacteria Ehrlichia canis after being bitten by an infected brown dog tick. The brown dog tick is widely distributed worldwide and is present in Australia.

Once ehrlichiosis is in the tick population, it is very difficult to control, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions.

Infected dogs do not transmit ehrlichiosis to people. In very rare cases, infected ticks may infect people. Read more about the human health impacts of ticks on the Western Australia Department of Health website.


Symptoms of ehrlichiosis infection in dogs can include:

  • fever
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • swelling of chest or front legs
  • cloudy eyes or conjunctivitis
  • pain and stiffness
  • bleeding disorders such as nosebleeds or bruising on the gums or belly.

How to protect your dog:

Do all of the below to protect your dogs from ehrlichiosis.

  • Have your dogs on a tick control program. Tick collars and spot-ons are the best primary protection used in combination with tablets and chews registered for tick control.
  • Have any tick infestations in your house or yard managed by a pest controller.
  • Avoid taking your dogs into tick-infested areas. Take particular care when bush-walking with your dog.
  • Inspect your dogs daily for ticks, especially if they have been in a tick-infested areas. Run your fingers through your pet’s coat over their skin, feeling for abnormal bumps. Pay particular attention to the head, neck, ears, chest, between their toes and around their mouths and gums.
  • Contact your vet if you find ticks on your dog and are concerned about the risk of ehrlichiosis.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of ehrlichiosis, such as fever, lethargy and appetite loss.

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