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Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis in Dogs, Cats and People

Tick-Borne Zoonotic Diseases That Can Threaten Your Family and Pets

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Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis in Dogs, Cats and People

Anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis are diseases that can be passed to pets and people through the bite of a tick.
Photo courtesy of Hunter-Desportes/Flickr.com

Anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis are the terms used to describe the diseases caused by the bacterial organisms known as Anaplasma and Ehrlichia, respectively. Many of the Anaplasma organisms were previously classified as Ehrlichlia so you may still see them referred to that way in some references.

Anaplasmosis and Ehlichiosis in Dogs and Cats

Anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis are both diseases that are carried by ticks. When an animal or person is bitten by an infected tick, they can become infected with the disease.

Symptoms seen in dogs for both diseases can range from subclinical (showing little to no sign of disease) to life threatening. When seen, symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • depression
  • lack of appetite
  • weight loss
  • bloody noses
  • bruises
  • joint pain and stiffness
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • eye disease
  • neurological abnormalities

In cats, symptoms are not as well described. However, some of the symptoms reported have included:

  • fever
  • lethargy
  • lack of appetite
  • weight loss
  • bruising
  • joint pain
  • difficulty breathing
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Anaplasma and Ehrlichia Infections in People

People become infected with anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis in essentially the same way that dogs and cats do, through the bite of an infected tick. Typically, neither disease is passed directly from your dog or cat to you. However, both your dog and your cat can bring ticks into your home that can endanger you and your family.

In people, these diseases are also sometimes referred to as human monocytic ehrlichiosis or human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE), although HGE is most commonly referred to now as human anaplasmosis.

Prevent Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis for Your Family and Your Pets

Since ticks are the means by which these diseases are transmitted, it makes sense that preventing tick bites and controlling ticks is the best method of preventing infection.

Consider using an effective flea and tick control product for your dogs and cats. Check all pets thoroughly for ticks on a regular basis and remove them promptly when found.

Check yourself thoroughly for ticks if you have been outdoors, particularly if you have been in a wooded area or other high risk tick environment. Check your children thoroughly as well. Remove any ticks found promptly. Consider using insect repellent when planning to visit areas likely to be infested with ticks.

Take measures to keep ticks out of your yard. Keep your grass mowed short and remove any high grasses or brush from near your house.

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