Rare, deadly dog disease found in Queensland


Owners advised to protect pets and be aware of symptoms.

Dog owners have been warned to guard against a disease spread by ticks.

Queensland dog owners have been warned of a deadly tick-borne disease.

Dogs can become very sick from ehrlichiosis if they are bitten by a brown dog tick infected with the bacteria that causes the disease, Ehrlichia canis (E. canis).

Biosecurity Queensland said with the wet season well underway, ticks were likely to be more prevalent.

The brown dog tick is found across most of Australia and many dogs may be at risk of infection.

Since 2020, dogs have been infected with ehrlichiosis by ticks in northern Western Australia, the Northern Territory and northern South Australia.

Ehrlichiosis has only recently arrived in Queensland and this has been blamed on an increase in dogs transported across Australia during a pet shortage during the pandemic.

Last month a case was confirmed in north-west Queensland in a dog that was reported to not have travelled outside the state.

Animal Welfare League of Queensland said there were two cases of the disease in the state last year – one in Brisbane and the other on the Gold Coast.

To reduce the chances of your pet being affected by ticks, AWLQ recommended pet owners utilise a tick treatment that will either repelled ticks or killed them if they attached.

“Spot-on treatments, tablets and collars are available and it is best to consult your vet about which is most suitable for your pet,” an AWLQ spokesperson said.

“Read the instructions very carefully as some treatments are for dogs only and can be very dangerous to cats and can even kill them.

“While these products act as a preventative, there is no guarantee they will protect your pet 100% of the time and the best way to protect your pet is to check them daily.”

Biosecurity Queensland also recommended owners avoid taking their dogs into tick-infested areas, such as the bush, as much as possible, and avoid areas where infected dogs or ticks may be

present, including shared dog areas.

Contact a vet immediately if you notice these signs in your dog:

  • Unusual tiredness or fatigue
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Enlarged glands (lymph nodes)
  • Cloudy or red eyes
  • Mucky eyes and nose
  • Pale gums
  • Swelling on the body or limbs
  • Bruising or bleeding under the skin.

If you suspect a dog is infected with E. canis you must report it to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

To find out more about ehrlichiosis, visit Biosecurity Queensland’s website or call the Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23.

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The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.