Experts urge change about thinking for canine vector born disease

The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) can transmit diseases to dogs and humans, including babesiosis.

The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) can transmit diseases to dogs and humans, including babesiosis.

Australian and New Zealand veterinarians need to change the way they think about vector borne diseases, according to canine medicine specialist Associate Professor Peter Irwin.

Irwin, based at Murdoch University, said that while Australia and New Zealand are free of many significant vector borne diseases (VBDs), emergence of these in previously unaffected regions raises concerns that this may not always be the case.

“There is a concern that many of these diseases fly under the radar,” Irwin said. “They can cause non-specific clinical signs, can be difficult to diagnose, and may not be detected without a high index of suspicion.”

Ticks, fleas and sand flies are vectors of the most significant canine VBDs, including borreliosis (known as Lyme disease), babesiosis, bartonellosis, ehrlichiosis, hepatozoonosis and leishmaniosis.

Australia and New Zealand are free of ehrlichiosis, leishmaniosis, hepatozoonosis and Lyme borreliosis, but the risk of these diseases becoming established is very real. Screening for some pathogens in imported companion animals is required by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), but there are case reports of leishmaniosis in dogs imported prior to screening.

While sand flies are the only proven vector of leishmaniosis, transmission is possible via nonvectorial routes.

Irwin advises veterinarians to expect the unexpected, as animals with so-called “exotic disease” can present at any time. Continue reading Experts urge change about thinking for canine vector born disease