• Tick-borne diseases of dogs and cats causing vasculitis leading to multisystemic dysfunction often characterized by
thrombocytopenia and hyperglobulinemia.
• Recently reclassified – moved from the family Rickettsiaceae to the Anaplasmataceae.
Overview of etiologic agents
• 3 pathogenic genera: Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, and Neorickettsia; we are concerned here with the first 2.
• Ehrlichia spp. – divided into 3 groups:-
• E. canis – intracyctoplasmic morulae found in circulating leukocytes.
• E. chaffeensis – like E. canis, found in mononuclear cells; mainly a human pathogen but can causes disease in dog.
• E. ewingii – canine granulocytic ehrlichiosis; like A. phagocytophila, infects granulocytic cells in dogs, but differs in geographic distribution (mainly found in southeastern and south-central
• Anaplasma spp. – 2 organisms of importance:-
o phagocytophila – previously E. equi, E. phagocytophila, and HGE; infects mainly horses; infects granulocytic cells of dogs; serologic cross reactivity occurs with other Anaplasma spp. but uncommon with Ehrlichia spp.; same distribution as Lyme dz (same tick vector) - northeastern and upper Midwestern states, and California. No serologic
cross reactivity with Borrelia, Bartonella or Rickettsia rickettsii.
o platys – previously E. platys; tropism for platelets; does not share serologic cross reactivity with E. canis.
In this presentation, we will focus on E. canis and A. phagocytophilum.
Ehrlichia canis – Canine monocytotrophic ehrlichiosis.
• Rhipicephalus sanguineus (brown dog tick) and occasionally Dermacentor variabilis transmits disease to dogs in saliva.
• Incubation period – 1 to 3 weeks.
• Severity and outcome of disease depends on infecting strain and dose of inoculum; German shepherd dogs seem more
• After infection – organisms multiply in macrophages then spread throughout hose:-
• 3 stages of disease:-
o Acute – spreads from bite site to the spleen, liver, and lymph nodes (causes organomegaly); then subclinical
with mild thrombocytopenia; mainly endothelial cells affected; vasculitis; anti-platelet antibodies exacerbates thrombocytopenia;
variable leukopenia; mild anemia; severity depends on organism.
o Subclinical – organism persists; antibody response increases (hyperglobulinemia); thrombocytopenia persists.
o Chronic – impaired bone marrow production (platelets, erythroid suppression); marrow hypercellular with plasma
o Multisystemic disease – including bleeding tendencies (thrombocytopenia and vasculitis), lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly,
CNS, ocular (anterior uveitis), and lung.
– Canine granulocytic anaplasmosis.
• Ixodes spp (I. scapularis in northeast, I. pacificus in California). transmit Dz in saliva
• Incubation period – 1to 2 weeks (much shorter than for Lyme disease).
• Reservoir hosts - white-footed mouse, chipmunks, wood rats, voles, and white-tailed deer; various bird species are
also implicated in spread of disease.
• After infection, organism binds and enters mainly neutrophils – multiply (morula) – rupture cell to release more
organisms which infect more cells.
• How organisms cause disease is not known; after ~ 10 days of infection, cellular and humoral immune mechanisms control
• Clinical findings are virtually always associated with acute disease period during the bacteremic phase – chronic
disease has not been reported.
• Mild illness typified by fever, lethargy and thrombocytopenia; polyarthritis occurs but rare in comparison to infection
with E. ewingii; most dogs present in the spring, early summer and again in the fall.