Ticks & Ehrlichiosis

Ticks are major health problems in dogs and cats. Costa Rica with it’s climate and vegetation is one of the most problematic countries.

Ticks harm our pets in many way:

  • These parasites can transmit infectious agents – both viral and bacterial.
  • There are several diseases that can be caused by ticks in their host.
  • Some of them in the suction process can release neurotoxins that alter neurological stimuli transmission, causing paralysis in our friends and even death from respiratory paralysis (this is called tick paralysis).
  • The ticks can cause inflammatory skin reactions that can become complicated.

Today, there are many new generation of products that are right for your pet.  Your friend does not have to suffer any disorder by these parasites!


What is Ehrlichiosis?
Ehrlichiosis is transmitted by ticks. It is a non-contagious infectious disease caused by the rickettsiales Ehrlichia. These small organisms are bacteria. Most Ehrlichia species are capable of infecting humans, dogs, and cats but apparently play a minor role in human infection.  The disease was first reported in Costa Rica in 1995.

The disease begins when an animal is bitten by a tick contaminated with the parasite. After an incubation period of 8-20 days, 3 phases may occur.  They are not necessarily successive stages in animals and many times there are variations depending on the animal’s immunity.

In the acute phase the most common clinical disorders include fever, anorexia, dyspnea (difficulty breathing), lymphadenopathy (hyperplasia of lymphoid cells), and hepato – splenomegaly ( enlarged liver).   Also petechiae (small blood spots),  ecchymosis (red spots on the skin) and occasional nosebleeds. Ocular signs may appear with some regularity as well as blindness and anterior uveitis (inflammation of the uveal tract).  Your pet may show other signs such as vomiting, downloads oculonasal, ataxia (uncoordinated in their movement) and difficulty breathing, as well as non-regenerative anemia.

How to Treat Ehrlichiosis?
The treatment of choice is doxycycline 2 times a day for 21 days.  It is accompanied by subcutaneous administration of two injections of Imidocarb dipropionate (Imizol).  Administer supportive therapy such as fluids, transfusions, vitamins, etc.  Remember that there are sometimes infections are associated and should also be treated as well. It is a good practice to repeat the tests before treatment ends and check that no errors occurred.  In some cases (especially in the chronic phase) treatment should continue.

Is There a Prevention?
Prevention is important since there is no vaccine to date.  In the market there are many products that work very well and ticks can be removed without causing any damage to your pet.  Ask your vet what is right for your pet!

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