Francisella spp are a Gram-negative aerobic tick-borne bacteria normally associated with tularemia.
Few reports of this disease have been made in dogs, which mostly often affects rabbits and cats. Hunting or working dogs, or dogs with access to rural regions are mostly predisposed, and serological surveys suggest younger dogs have higher seroconversion, suggesting a higher risk for this age group.
Species which have been reported in dogs include:
- Francisella tularensis
- Francisella philomiragia
Clinically affected dogs present with acute septicemia, with lethargy, anorexia, weakness, tonsillitis and lymphadenopathy. Infection is commonly seen with dogs that have eaten rabbits which have succumbed to the disease.
Diagnosis is based on presenting clinical signs, postmortem signs of white spots on the liver and microbial culture of the bacteria from fine-needle aspirates obtained from lymph nodes and confirmed by results of ELISA and a polymerase chain reaction assay.
Direct and indirect immunofluorescent techniques are available to detect the presence of F tularensis in clinical specimens.
Control of ectoparasites and confinement to reduce the likelihood of ingestion of infected mammals will reduce the risk of disease.
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