27 Jul ￼Lyme Disease is on the Rise in CNY
Temperatures are consistently above 40 degrees and the ticks are out and hungry. Lyme disease, once found mostly in New England and downstate New York, is moving northward. Already this year we have seen several positive Lyme tests. Many clients have also mentioned that they have removed ticks from themselves.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted primarily by deer ticks. Once the tick attaches to the host, it begins taking a blood meal. Blood taken during the meal mixes with the infected blood of the tick and within 48 hours, the bacteria enter the hosts’ body. Depending on the severity of the infection, symptoms may manifest themselves immediately or may not show up for awhile.
In dogs, the most noticeable sign in usually shifting leg lameness. The dog may show pain in one leg one day and in a different leg the next day. Additionally, the owner may notice their pet is lethargic or feverish. If an animal comes into the clinic suffering from any of these conditions and there is a history of ticks, the doctor may request a Lyme test.
A simple blood test that can be done in-clinic is used to diagnose Lyme disease. Once the blood is drawn, results are available in 15-20 minutes. In addition to Lyme disease, the test also screens for heartworm disease, and two other tick-borne diseases; ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. If the test is positive, treatment is fairly simple. Antibiotics (usually doxycycline) are taken for 30 days.
Although treatment is curative, your pet may test positive for several years. Current thinking advocates vaccinating for Lyme disease even after treatment. Although the current infection can be eliminated, it is possible to be infected by another disease-carrying tick.
Many tick control products are on the market to prevent ticks from attaching to your pet. Discuss your options with your veterinarian to determine which preventative product will work best for you.
What to Use in the Parasite Fight
So what do you use to prevent ticks and fleas from becoming an issue for your pet? There are many options today— some effective and some not so effective.
Many of the over-the-counter products are less effective than those purchased through your veterinarian. The companies that produce and sell preventative products prefer to deal with licensed veterinarians to ensure their products are stored and used properly. They are more confident that in the vet’s office, you will be shown the correct way to apply the product to maximize its effectiveness.