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A TEXVETMED POST Plague is endemic in the western half of Texas. Infected cats have been reported to transmit this disease to their caregivers (including veterinarians & technical staff). Infections in dogs are reported less commonly. This should be an important differential for pets coming from or traveling through Colorado: ------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- PLAGUE ALERT - USA (COLORADO) ********************************************* A ProMed Mail Post Source: AP 15 Jul 1999 [edited] http://insidedenver.com/news/0716plag0.shtml Plague has been confirmed in fleas taken from a prairie dog colony near a popular Boulder area trailhead, officials said on Thursday. The plague was detected in a prairie dog colony about 100 yards from the trail at the Flatiron Vista Trailhead, which is near the intersection of highways 93 and 128, according to Boulder city officials. Most of the prairie dogs were killed by the disease and health officials are warning visitors to use precautions when they are near the infected area. For example, hikers should take precautions to reduce the potential for flea bites and avoid handling the dead rodents. Pets also should not be allowed in the area. Plague is spread through the bite of fleas infected with the bacteria. Prairie dogs and other rodents such as deer mice and rock squirrels are common carriers for the disease in Colorado. Symptoms include fever and chills, headache, muscle aches and nausea. It can be fatal if left untreated. ............................................jw FORWARDED BY: Laura E. Robinson, DVM, MS Zoonosis Control Veterinarian Texas Department of Health - Region 11 Harlingen, Texas ---------------------------------------------- Posted by: Tom Beckett, DVM
Ehrlichiosis Ehrlichiosis is caused by the rickettsial organism Ehrlichia canis. Other examples of rickettsial organisms are Riskettsia rickettsi, which causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichia risticii, which causes Potomac Fever in horses. These organisms tend to be carried by ticks and other insect vectors, in some cases. For ehrlichiosis, the most common vector is the brown dog tick. For this reason, ehrlichiosis occurs anywhere this tick occurs. At present, it has been reported in 34 states, with the northern states being spared in most instances. The southeastern and south central states are the most heavily affected. A few cases of Ehrlichia canis infection have been reported in people after tick bites. Ehrlichia infection can cause a number of clinical signs. It can be extremely hard to diagnose due to the wide range of symptoms that can occur. Most dogs infected with this organism will have be lethargic, lose weight, show less interest in food and become anemic. Other possible clinical signs include hemorrhages under the skin or in around the gums, swollen lymph nodes, muscular or joint soreness, nasal discharges or nosebleeds, severe neck or back pain, blood in the urine and eye problems ranging from exudates to severe inflammation of the internal eye structures. Neurologic signs such as seizures and difficulty walking can occur. Respiratory or heart related signs can occur due to hemorrhaging and compensation for anemia if it becomes severe. Hemorrhaging occurs primarily due to decrease in platelet counts from the infection. While most dogs show a number of symptoms when first infected with Ehrlichia, there is also a chronic infection that can occur if the acute infection is not treated. In this case, the dog may appear to be normal or may show vague signs of illness occasionally. This is one cause of the complaint that "my dog just isn't doing right". The chronic illness can suddenly become very severe again if the dog is stressed in some manner or become less immune competent for some reason. The best method of diagnosing this disease is through testing of serum from the dog using an immunofluorescent antibody (IFA) test. unfortunately, a positive test only indicates exposure. Still, in the presence of clinical signs or if the titer rises after treatment or stays consistently high, infection is strongly implied by the lab results. Ehrlichia canis is normally susceptible to treatment with tetracycline antibiotics, including doxycycline. In some situations the organism will not respond to these antibiotics or their use is contraindicated due to the young age of a dog or pregnancy. In this case, chloramphenicol can be used and there is anecdotal evidence of success using cephalosporin antibiotics. The bleeding tendencies in this disease are related to a drop in platelets (thrombocytopenia) so it can be necessary to use corticosteroids to treat this condition if the platelet counts are low. While this can be life saving, the use of corticosteroids should be discontinued as quickly as possible so that their immunosuppressive effect does not interfere with successful treatment. Extensive supportive care, including intravenous fluids, administration of blood products and hospitalization may be necessary to treat this problem in some dogs. The survival rate is good if the disease is recognized and treated aggressively.