Ehrlichiosis Forecast 2020
Ehrlichiosis, a tick-borne disease that can affect both dogs and humans, will continue to pose a problem in the United States this year. Nationwide, the ehrlichiosis forecast is geographically spotty. Pet owners are advised to use the 2020 CAPC forecast maps as a guidance tool for their region, and the monthly CAPC parasite prevalence maps as an ongoing tool for monitoring new cases reported at the local level. Importantly, Ehrlichiosis may be non-existent to endemic within a 200 miles range, leading to a strong need for local-level awareness and conversations with your veterinarian about your dog’s travel..
Overall, the 2020 trends in ehrlichiosis will be:
- The risk of exposure to the bacteria that cause ehrlichiosis in dogs is expected to be higher throughout the endemic south-central United States, in particular Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The presence of this bacteria in these states continues to rise each year.
- Similar to the previous year, there are small focal areas of expected lower than average risk. These include the central eastern border of Arkansas, far western Tennessee, and the western coastal region of North Carolina. Despite the expected decrease, these are still endemic areas with a high risk of exposure, so continued use of tick preventatives, routine examination of pets for the presence of ticks, and prompt removal is imperative.
What is Ehrlichiosis?
Ehrlichiosis is a disease caused by one or more different species of bacteria that infect white blood cells. Dogs get infected through the bite of several different species of infected ticks, such as the brown dog tick, the American dog tick or the lone star tick.
Infected dogs may show no signs at all, or there may be vague signs, such as fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, or nose bleeds. In some cases, chronic infection can lead to arthritis, immune cell abnormalities, and bone marrow suppression (which can be fatal). This is why early diagnosis and treatment are critical.
Humans and other pets in your household cannot catch ehrlichiosis directly from an infected dog. However, infected dogs mean there may be infected ticks in the area that could transmit the bacteria to other household members.
Year-round tick control can help safeguard your dog
Within any geographic area, there may be several different kinds of ticks and each tick can potentially harbor more than one disease-causing agent. People generally consider the summer to be the only time that dogs and people are at risk of getting ticks; however, some species of ticks, for example brown dog ticks and black-legged ticks, can be active throughout the winter. In addition, brown dog ticks can live indoors, increasing risk of year-around exposure. Even though avoiding tall grass and wooded areas can help to minimize your dog’s exposure to ticks, there is still a risk of infection. That’s why CAPC recommends year-round tick control and regular screening tests for dogs.
There is no vaccine to prevent ehrlichiosis, so it is essential to use a tick control product that’s recommended by your veterinarian as being right for your dog. Even with tick control, it’s a good idea to carefully check your dog’s entire body and remove attached ticks as soon as possible. Always use tweezers or other tick-removal devices and wear gloves to prevent exposure to disease-causing agents.