An update on the treatment of canine monocytic ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia canis)

Mathios E. Mylonakis, Shimon Harrus, Edward B. Breitschwerdt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Canine monocytic ehrlichiosis (CME), caused by Ehrlichia canis, a gram-negative, obligate intracellular bacterium, is a tick-borne disease of worldwide distribution. Experimentally, the course of E. canis infection can be sequentially divided into acute, subclinical and chronic phases, although distinction of these phases is challenging in the clinical setting. Spontaneous clinical recovery of acutely infected dogs is common; however, dogs at this stage require medical treatment in order to hasten their clinical recovery, and to prevent clinical exacerbation or death. An unpredictable proportion of subclinically infected dogs will eventually develop the chronic, severe form of ehrlichiosis, characterized by aplastic pancytopenia and high mortality. The aims of antimicrobial treatment in CME include the achievement of clinical remission, resolution of the clinicopathologic abnormalities, and eradication of the infection, although the latter is not always feasible or diagnostically confirmable. Treatment of dogs with aplastic pancytopenia should be undertaken with the clear understanding that medical management will require long-term care, will be expensive, and may eventually prove ineffective. This manuscript reviews the current state of knowledge regarding treatment of ehrlichiosis, caused by E. canis infection in dogs, provides expert opinion guidelines for the management of the CME-associated aplastic pancytopenia, and outlines methods for evaluation of treatment outcomes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)45-53
Number of pages9
JournalVeterinary Journal
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Aplastic pancytopenia
  • Canine monocytic ehrlichiosis
  • Dog
  • Ehrlichia canis
  • Treatment

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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