Lyme Disease

Nicole L. Blithe, DVM

Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease that affects humans, dogs, and other animals.  It is spread by the deer tick (Ixodes) and is caused by a bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi.  Ticks bite the host and secrete a substance that cements it to the skin.  While the tick takes a blood meal, the bacteria move from the midgut of the tick to the salivary glands of the tick and into the host.  The bacteria are spiral-shaped and spiral through the tissues and into the bloodstream.  Transmission of the disease occurs within 24 to 48 hours after a bite occurs.

Clinical signs of Lyme disease in dogs include shifting leg lameness, swelling of joints, stiffness, decreased appetite and depression.  In severe cases, Lyme nephritis can occur where the bacteria causes kidney failure.  Labradors and Golden Retrievers are predisposed to Lyme nephritis due to the fact that they have tighter junctions in their kidneys that prevent Lyme complexes from exiting the structures of the kidneys.

So how do we prevent this disease in our dogs?  At Neffsville Veterinary Clinic, we perform annual testing for Lyme disease in our heartworm/tick-borne disease test.  We also recommend vaccinating for Lyme with the CrLyme vaccine.  Our doctors feel that this vaccine is best as it helps to inactivate Lyme in the tick before it even enters our dogs and protects our dogs if the bacteria transmission occurs.  This provides dual protection for our pets.

When choosing a tick preventative, we want two things……a product that is effective and kills fast.  Our veterinarians recommend Simparica for tick control.  It is a once per month chew that remains efficacious for 35 days and kills ticks in 8 hours.  By having this fast of a kill time, we are helping to kill the tick before disease transmission even occurs!

Currently, in the mid-Atlantic states, the tick encounter index is HIGH.  The deer tick is the most prevalent, but the Lone Star tick and the American Dog tick are also in full force.  Please contact us to discuss Lyme vaccination and prevention with a veterinarian.

You can also check out tickencouter.org and showusyourticks.org for more information. If you find a tick and want to have it identified, you can snap a photo with your phone and submit it to one of these websites for tick identification.

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