Ehrlichiosis

What is canine ehrlichiosis [ur-lik-ee-oh-sis]?

Canine ehrlichiosis comes in multiple forms that are often specific to different U.S. regions. Ehrlichia canis is transmitted by the brown dog tick; Ehrlichia ewingii and Ehrlichia chaffeensis are transmitted by the lone star tick. Like Lyme disease in dogs, symptoms of canine ehrlichiosis may not be obvious. If left untreated, these diseases could progress to a chronic (persistent) infection, which can last days, months or years without showing any symptoms.

Ehrlichia ewingii and Ehrlichia chaffeensis are also zoonotic diseases, which means they can infect people as well as pets. These diseases are particularly dangerous for young children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems.

What are the symptoms of Ehrlichia canis [ur-lik-ee-ah cane-es]?

Ehrlichia canis is an infection of white blood cells that can eventually affect bone marrow function, including production of blood cells. Common symptoms can include any of the following:

  • Depression and/or lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Runny eyes and nose/discharge
  • Spontaneous nose bleeds
  • Bruising on gums and belly
  • Lameness/joint pain

What are the symptoms of Ehrlichia ewingii [ur-lik-ee-ah ee-u-ing-i]?

Ehrlichia ewingii is an infection of the blood cells that can lead to joint pain and lameness. Common symptoms can include any of the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Spontaneous and shifting leg lameness, reluctance to move

What are the symptoms of Ehrlichia chaffeensis [ur-lik-ee-ah chaf-ee-n-sis]?

Ehrlichia chaffeensis affects white blood cells but rarely causes clinical disease in dogs. The infection poses a greater risk to human health and is known as human monocytotropic ehrlichiosis.

Where is canine ehrlichiosis found?

Different strains of canine ehrlichiosis are found throughout the United States and Canada. The highest concentration of Ehrlichia canis cases is reported in southwestern and Gulf Coast regions of the United States. The distribution and number of Ehrlichia ewingii and Ehrlichia chaffeensis cases are on the rise and can be found in states as far north as Massachusetts and as far west as central Oklahoma and Kansas. Find out if ehrlichiosis is in your neighborhood.