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Ehrlichia canis information for veterinarians

Infection with Ehrlichia canis is a nationally notifiable disease. If you suspect the presence of E. canis infection in any dog in Queensland, you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or contact the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Australia is currently undertaking surveillance activities to determine the geographical distribution of E. canis following confirmation of the disease in Western Australia in May 2020 and in the Northern Territory in June 2020.

Assessment of suspect infections

When veterinarians notify Biosecurity Queensland of suspect E. canis (the causative agent of canine ehrlichiosis) infections, we will put them in contact with a Biosecurity Queensland veterinary officer to discuss the case.

The veterinary officer will seek epidemiological information about the likelihood of E. canis infection to inform diagnostic priorities. The specimen advice sheet—Ehrlichia canis supplement will be used as a guide for information collection.

High-priority cases

Based on the epidemiological information provided, a likelihood assessment will inform high-priority cases. High-priority cases will be of dogs with any of the following:

  • a travel history from Western Australia or the Northern Territory
  • a history of tick-borne related disease
  • a history of a blood transfusion
  • a history of clinical disease consistent with E. canis (acute, subclinical or chronic forms)
  • pyrexia of unknown cause and thrombocytopaenia (as priority indicators).

Where to submit samples

Submit samples from high-priority cases directly to the Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory (BSL) accompanied by the specimen advice sheet (Form A) (PDF, 188KB) and the specimen advice sheet—Ehrlichia canis supplement. There will be no charge for E. canis testing but wider diagnostic testing will not be undertaken. Submit additional samples to your preferred commercial veterinary laboratory if wider diagnostic testing is required.

Samples from lower priority cases, where E. canis infection forms part of a wide range of differential diagnoses, should be submitted to your preferred commercial veterinary laboratory. Where E. canis infection is to be ruled out, samples will be referred from the commercial veterinary laboratory to the BSL for fully subsidised E. canis testing.

Samples required

The required samples from live or recently deceased/euthanased animals are:

  • blood:
    • 2-5ml in an EDTA tube (purple top)
    • 2-5ml in a plain tube (red or grey/red speckled top). If possible, a 1–2ml aliquot of clear serum should be obtained
  • ticks collected from the affected dog and placed in 70% ethanol or 40% propylene glycol.

Samples from dead animals are:

  • unclotted heart blood (if available)
  • fresh and formalin-fixed samples of lung, spleen, liver, kidney, and submandibular lymph node
  • ticks collected from the affected dog and placed in 70% ethanol or 40% propylene glycol.

Tick collection kits

Tick collection kits will be distributed to a number of Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) offices and veterinary practices in Queensland. You can also request kits through the Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23.

Ticks may be submitted in 5ml tubes with 2.5ml of 70% ethanol along with other diagnostic samples if transporting by road. Ethanol cannot be transported by air or through Australia Post.

Also consider


General enquiries 13 25 23