Tag Archives: Lyme

Understanding Tickborne Diseases

Understanding Tickborne Diseases

Tickborne diseases are becoming a serious problem in this country as people increasingly build homes in formerly uninhabited wilderness areas where ticks and their animal hosts live. Tickborne diseases can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Most people become infected through tick bites during the spring and summer months. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial disease transmitted by the dog tick, was first identified in 1896. It still exists, although now it can be easily treated. Since then, researchers have identified many new tickborne diseases. Tickborne diseases can be found throughout the United States. For example, Lyme disease, first discovered in Connecticut in the early 1970s, has since spread to every state except Hawaii. One of the newest tickborne diseases to be identified in the United States is called Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI). This disease has a bull’s-eye rash similar to that found in Lyme disease, which is caused by bacteria transmitted by the deer tick. Although researchers know that the lone star tick transmits the infectious agent that causes STARI, they do not yet know what microbe (germ) causes it. Ticks transmit ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis, both bacterial diseases. Babesiosis is caused by parasites carried by deer ticks. These diseases are found in several states. Tularemia, a less common tickborne bacterial disease, can be transmitted by ticks as well as other vectors (carriers) such as the deerfly. Public health experts are concerned that the bacterium that causes tularemia (Francisella tularensis) could be used as a weapon of bioterrorism. Tickborne disease can usually be prevented by avoiding places where ticks often live, such as dense woods and brushy areas. Using insect repellents containing DEET (for the skin) or permethrin (for clothes), wearing long pants and socks, performing tick checks, and promptly removing ticks also will help prevent infection from tickborne microbes. Scientists are searching for better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent tickborne diseases. They are also looking for ways to control the tick populations that transmit microbes. To learn more, go to: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/tickborne/Pages/Default.aspx

Deer Ticks

Bad things come in small packages
The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), often referred to as the black-legged tick, is small and unassuming. But don’t be fooled by appearances—this tick can transmit Lyme disease and anaplasmosis, two very serious and often-diagnosed diseases. These are also zoonotic diseases, which means they can infect people as well as pets. The deer tick is commonly found in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic and upper midwestern regions of the United States.

Watch out for a spike in Lyme disease

Experts are saying that we are in store for a large spike in Lyme disease cases this spring. The surge is expected to begin in May and last until July. Call the hospital today to talk with our medical staff about whether your pet should be vaccinated against Lyme disease. Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world, and left untreated it can cause serious health problem for your pet. So why the projected big increase this year? According to HealthDay News: “The reason is that oak trees produced relatively few acorns this year, part of a normal cycle of boom and bust years for the acorn crop. But the small crop means trouble for the white-footed mouse, which feeds on the acorns. “We had a boom in acorns, followed by a boom in mice. And now, on the heels of one of the smallest acorn crops we’ve ever seen, the mouse population is crashing,” Richard Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., said in an institute news release. “What does that have to do with Lyme disease? “Mice are the preferred host for black-legged ticks, which transmit Lyme disease. Black-legged ticks need a bloodmeal at three different stages — as larvae, as nymphs and as adults. As of the spring, the larval ticks that fed on 2011’s large mouse population will be looking for their nymphal meal. “This spring, there will be a lot of Borrelia burgdorferi-infected black-legged ticks in our forests looking for a blood meal. And instead of finding a white-footed mouse, they are going to find other mammals — like us,” Ostfeld added. Borrelia burgdorferi is the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Here’s a link to the full article.

First Puppy Visit for the Steinbaugh Family, and a Smart Question about Ticks

“Morrison” with Mom, Rachel Steinbaugh and daughters Chloe and Alyvia visited AHDC yesterday for his first-time puppy visit. We checked a fecal sample, examined him and checking a tick bite. Rachel asked a question that many clients ask, “Is the head of the tick still in”? It is important to use caution when removing a tick if it is attached and biting your pet. There are many tricks of the trade, using peanut butter, alcohol, even a match that has just been blown out. Dr. Heather Balmer fears that those methods can lead to the tick burrowing in further. She recommends using tweezers or a tick pulling device while using a spinning motion and pulling the tick out. Once you remove the tick, you will likely see the microscopic pieces of the tick’s prongs that look like black specks and this is almost impossible to avoid. You will also likely see a red bump and you may apply triple antibiotic ointment to the area if you wish. Ticks spread a few diseases and Lyme Disease is one of them and it is prevalent in our area. If your pet has been infected by Lyme Disease, you will not notice a red ring on your pet as our human doctors advise us to look for. Instead, you should look for limping that might switch from leg to leg, but not always, fever, or a decreased appetite. Symptoms usually appear within 14 days, but can appear sooner. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us for help. We will test for Lyme approximately 2-3 weeks after the tick bite and in some cases, we will recommend additional testing to be certain. We will also use antibiotics to treat the infection and this may be a 4-6 week treatment. Talk to us today about the best tick prevention for your pet!

Salt, Antifreeze and Other Winter Warnings for Your Pet

From our wonderful veterinary technician team, here are some tips to keep your pet healthy and safe this winter. As the winter weather worsens you will most likely need to use ice-melt. Your pets walk on it and it will irritate their paws and while they are cleaning it off themselves, they may even ingest it. It can be toxic to them, so in order to prevent this, please purchase pet safe ice-melt. Most stores offer one variety or another. We believe that pet-safe versions work just as well as the others. Continue reading Salt, Antifreeze and Other Winter Warnings for Your Pet

Dr. Sarsfield says “Watch out for Lyme Disease this Fall”

It’s getting colder and so it’s tempting to ease off on the flea and tick preventatives. Don’t! Central Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of Lyme positive dogs in the United States. The Animal Hospital of Dauphin County sees hundreds of positive dogs each year. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection which can cause illness in dogs, horses and humans. The disease became prevalent in humans in the 1970s, and the first case in dogs was found in 1985. The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are known as Borrelia. In nature, these bacteria are carried by mice, deer and birds, but they do not cause illness in these animals. The Borrelia bacteria are ingested by the deer tick when they feed on the blood of the carrier animals. When the tick drops off the animal, it grows into a more mature stage and then feeds on another animal. In dogs, the bacteria are transferred over 12 to 48 hours after the tick attaches and begins to feed. The Lyme bacteria travel from the site of the tick bite to the joints where they multiply. Symptoms of the disease include fever, swollen joints, limping and reluctance to move. The brain, the heart and the kidneys can also be affected. And when Lyme bacteria hits the kidney, it’s the worst case and is often fatal in days. The diagnosis of Lyme disease is confirmed by a blood test, which can be performed in our hospital in 10 to 15 minutes with very high accuracy. We may also perform additional tests on Lyme positive dogs: radiographs and additional blood tests to assess internal organ function. We use the antibiotic doxycycline to treat Lyme disease and also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to control the joint pain. Prevention of Lyme disease is critical to avoid the severe forms of the disease which attack the internal organs:
  • Daily checks for ticks are important.
  • Second, we recommend vaccination to prevent Lyme disease.
  • Finally, we recommend flea and tick control products including Frontline Plus and Revolution.
– Dr. Sarsfield