Apr 22, 2010 @ 02:02 AM — by Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital
As the warmer days of Spring try to make their way into our lives so do the parasites that can bring disease to us and our pets. One of these diseases is Lyme Disease and the rate of this disease in New Jersey has become alarming. In fact, the incidence of Lyme Disease in dogs and humans has doubled over the past decade. Between April 2008 and April 2009, we have seen 85 dogs that were positive for Lyme disease at Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital. Many of these dogs were showing no signs of their infection at the time of testing. If you would like to see how many are in your area, visit the website www.dogsandticks.com/US-map-lyme-disease-dogs/ and you can view an interactive map showing the number of positive cases by county in New Jersey. These results are startling and yet the numbers represented by this map are based upon the positive results from only one of the major laboratories. In early May one patient spent an entire week in the hospital while we treated her for a very serious infection with Lyme Disease. Fortunately, she survived and is now doing well at home.
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. Once associated with rural environments and mountainous terrain we now see the disease even in apartment dwellers who venture outside only to take a short walk. These bacteria live in deer ticks and western black-legged ticks. A person or animal is infected only after an infected tick is attached and partially engorged by feeding for eighteen hours. The signs of Lyme disease include: arthritis, swollen joints, fever, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes, kidney disease, and in some cases depression if the organism infects the brain. The good news is that there is a safe and effective vaccine to help prevent Lyme Disease. Your veterinarian might also suggest the use of a Preventic collar which paralyzes the tick's mouth parts and prevents it from attaching for the eighteen hours required to transmit Lyme bacteria to your pet.
At the Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital, we recommend testing for Lyme disease every year. If you have your dog tested annually for Heartworm Disease, this simple blood test also includes the test for, Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis all in one. Prevention is the key to good health, and the most effective preventative measure is testing and vaccinating against Lyme disease annually and using a monthly topical tick preventative.
Ticks are already in abundance this year. It is easier to prevent Lyme disease than to treat it, and far less painful for your canine companion. If your dog has not been tested or vaccinated against Lyme disease, please call our office today to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Dean J. Cerf and Staff
Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital