Tick Disease PreventionPublished May 16, 2012
Tick on Dog: Getty
Spring is a great time to learn about the tick borne diseases that can affect our beloved pets, as well as ourselves.
While many physicians practicing in the South maintain that Lyme disease is rare, according to the Georgia Lyme Disease Association, (GALDA) in 1989 715 cases in Georgia were reported to the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC), ranking it the 4th highest in the nation. The CDC identified native cases in 27 counties. Ocala.com reports a rise in Lyme disease in Northern Florida, as does the University of Florida News. According to Under Our Skin, over the past five years Lyme disease cases around the United States have increased 94%.
Tick borne diseases are not only threatening to people. Our beloved pets are at risk of becoming infected with serious illness from tick bites.
Since I have had chronic Lyme disease for many years, I was thrilled to learn that our fabulous veterinarian, Dr. Erin Holder, the owner of Florida Wild Veterinary Hospital in DeLand, set aside May as Disease Prevention month to educate pet guardians about tick borne diseases which may cause animals serious illness.
What are ticks? Similar to spiders, mites and scorpions, Ticks are arachnids. They have no antennae and as adults, four pairs of legs. Since when “dining” on their host’s blood, they attach themselves firmly, making ticks among the most efficient carriers of disease.
Four types of ticks are prevalent. These are the Deer, Lone Star (rural), Brown Dog (urban) and American Dog tick. Deer ticks are generally found in wooded areas and can transmit Lyme disease and Erlichiosis to dogs, cats and humans. The Lone Star ticks are usually found in wooded/bushy areas and near creek and river bottoms. The adult population peaks from March to May. Lone Stars feed on larger animals such as dogs and cattle.
While the Brown tick prefers feeding on canines, while rare, cats may also be at risk. Brown Ticks are found primarily in kennels and homes. Brown Ticks are unlike any other species of arachnids as its lifestyle allows them to develop and survive indoors.
Which diseases are tick-borne and what are their symptoms?
Tick borne disease frequently present as subclinical, meaning that the animal may show no signs of illness. Babesia is an infection that invades the mammal's Red Blood Cells, causing anemia. Ehrlichia is an intracellular bacterium that invades the organism's platelets.
When an animal or human has been bitten by a tick infected with Lyme disease, the bacterium (spirochete) travels through the bloodstream. Symptoms include fatigue, neurological signs, and swollen joints. Patients with Babesia present acute symptoms that include fever, dark urine, enlarged spleen and weakness. Acute symptoms of Ehrlichia may include weight loss, fever and respiratory distress.
Other symptoms of tick borne disease include, but are not limited to loss of appetite, lack of energy, depression, bleeding disorders, neurologic signs, eye problems, swollen joints, heart conditions, anemia and lameness.
What do you do to protect your pet from Tick borne illness? Share in a comment.