Babesiosis, or Biliary as it is better known as, and Ehrlichiosis are just 2 of the harmful diseases transmitted from ticks to dogs, cats and other livestock.
Tiny parasites are transmitted through the saliva of ticks into the bloodstream of their host after attachment and during feeding on the host.
Both of these tick-borne diseases cause very similar symptoms and both may be life-threatening.
Symptoms may include:
- Pale gums (caused by anemia)
- Lack of appetite and lack of energy
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Red urine
- Jaundice (gums, whites of eyes and sometimes even the skin takes on a yellow tinge)
Essentially, the parasites move into your pet’s red blood cells (the cells that carry oxygen through the body), and therefore change the general appearance of the blood cell. The body’s filtering system recognises that the infected blood cells look weird, and starts attacking them, causing mass internal blood destruction. Your pet loses large amounts of blood as a result of this destruction and will go anemic, to the point of death if treatment is not started in time. Often, the two diseases occur at the same time and both need to be treated. In some instances, a blood transfusion is necessary to save a life.
Both diseases are treatable but complications can also occur. For example, immune mediated haemolytic anaemia. This means that even though the parasites have been treated and are no longer in the blood, the body continues breaking down the blood cells because it is in such a rhythm of destruction!
Both Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis are endemic in South Africa, meaning it is something that we will always have to live with, knowing it exists in our space. They are also fortunately preventable diseases. In order for a tick to transmit the parasite, it usually has to latch onto your pet for longer than 8 hours.
Many tick and flea products are available which either kill or repel and kill the ticks that carry the parasites.
It is therefore extremely important to ensure that your pet is adequately covered all year round by an effective veterinary product known to prevent ticks, and therefore protect them from biliary and ehrlichiosis as well.
If you are unsure of what product is suited to your pet, please give us a call for further information or visit our clinic and our team will assist you in the various products available.