CQUniversity researcher Saba Sinai. Picture: Contributed
CQUniversity researcher Saba Sinai. Picture: Contributed

Biosecurity alert issued for tick disease fatal to dogs

A biosecurity alert has been issued for a tick-borne disease that can be fatal to dogs if not treated quickly.

The Agriculture and Fisheries Department alert stated canine ehrlichiosis, or E. canis., was detected in dogs brought into Queensland from the Northern Territory.

“To date, no dogs of Queensland origin have tested positive for E. canis,” the alert stated.

It said the brown dog tick was the primary carrier of the bacterial infection also known as canine typhis.

It attacks the immune cells causing symptoms including lethargy, anorexia, bleeding disorders, fever, eye and neurological abnormalities and potentially death.

CQUniversity’s Saba Sinai, a parasite expert currently using dry ice to trap hundreds of ticks throughout the Central Highlands for a research project, said E. canis was detected in Australia for the first time last year.

“This one is pretty serious,” Mr Sinai said.

“I’d say particularly from a dog owner or a pet owner point of view, it’s high up there.”

“But in rare occasions, it can transmit to humans.”

Ticks also carried other bacterial disease and were the reason more than one person presented to Mackay hospitals’ emergency departments every day throughout October to December 2019.

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Mr Sinai said summer was the busiest season for tick activity with the parasites favouring warm and humid climates.

“It’s sometimes why you find that ticks seek out armpits and groins and places that are a bit more insulated or favourable to their survival,” Mr Sinai said.

“For dogs, it seems to be those same sort of areas, but also the ears and around their eyes.”

He said there were two ways to remove a tick including tweezers, making sure the mouth parts were removed as well, and by buying a skin tag freezer kit from a pharmacist.

Queensland dog owners have a “general biosecurity obligation” to watch out for and manage the risks of E. canis infections.

If you suspect the disease in any dog, you must phone Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or phone the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

For more information on the E. canis alert, visit DAF’s website.

And if you are interested in collecting or submitting kangaroo ticks for Mr Sinai’s project, email s.sinai-mameghany@cqu.edu.au

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