Brakker contracted Ehrlichia Equi in early 1999. Her owners followed every lead in trying to find a cure for this devasting illness. While managing to attain a degree of relief and slow down the immeditate progression of the disease, it took its toll. After nearly a year of valiant effort on the parts of Brakker and her owners the decision was made - she was in too much discomfort to be asked to continue the battle.
I would like to caution every dog owner - if your dog becomes ill with *no* symptoms clearly defining another illness - and you suspect that they might have been exposed to even a single tick, test for the tick borne diseases.
Symptoms of the disease can vary greatly depending on which strain and the degree of infection of the organism involved, the overall health of the dog can also affect the degree and severity of the symptoms. Generally, the disease can be broken down into three stages:
Early stage: The dog owner may easily miss seeing symtoms for the early or acute stage of the disease because they can be so mild. There may be depression, decreased appetite and moderate fever. At this early stage if examined by a veterinarian an enlarged spleen and lymph nodes may be detected. The most consistent hematological finding will be a decreased platelet count, and while most dogs will spontaneously 'recover' from this stage the organism is not necessarily eliminated from their system, and enters the second stage of the disease.
Subclinical stage: During this stage there will be no signs of the disease. The only method capable of detecting infection during this stage is Serologic testing. Since the subclinical stage can last for an indefinite time it is especially important that high risk animals receive correct treatment to prevent progression of the disease to the chronic stage.
Chronic stage: What causes some dogs to pass from the subclinical stage into the chronic stage is unknown. Attempts to treat this stage of ehrlichiosis are often unsuccessful. Chronic signs of lethargy, fever, lack of appetite, weight loss, with tendencies to bleeding, usually result in the dogs death.
The following names, addresses and links will do a far better job then I ever could in providing information and eduction on this destructive tick borne illness that causes its victims to waste away.
Webmaster Note: While researching this disease I found Alta Vista's translation service to be of invaluable help. Click on advanced search and enter the boolean query - tick disease and ehrlichia or ehrlichiosis - this will give numerous results which are not included below simply because time must be taken to translate them.
Good Luck - by taking the first step to be an informed canine owner you have turned the odds in your favor of curing your companion.
TICKS AND TICK-TRANSMITTED DISEASES IN OKLAHOMA Excellent article with lots of photos and descriptions of the various ticks. Warning - a little graphic once or twice.
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