Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tick Control, Vaccination Fight Lyme Disease

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tick Control, Vaccination Fight Lyme Disease

Article excerpt

Thousands of dog owners in Western Pennsylvania have been told this year that their pet has been exposed to Lyme disease, which is spread by ticks infected with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi.

The pets, at their annual physicals, are screened for Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases along with heartworm. Usually, they are acting just fine; some owners had never even seen a tick on their pet.

When veterinary general practitioners face a complex problem, we turn to specialists and veterinary school faculty for answers. With Lyme disease, even the academic world cannot provide a clear consensus on how to prevent this complex disease.

There is also disagreement on what veterinarians should to do to treat this devastating and potentially life-threatening illness. I practice in an urban area and am seeing dogs with Lyme positive tests daily. We might see one dog in five that is positive. Veterinarians in rural areas would expect to see an even higher incidence of infection. In some areas in Pennsylvania, 50-75 percent of dogs will test positive.

About 10 percent of dogs who test positive may become ill with lameness, lethargy, fever and sometimes kidney issues. Clinical signs often occur two to five months after infection. Not every sick dog that tests positive for Lyme disease is ill from it.

An internationally known speaker, Richard Goldstein, recently lectured to the local veterinary community. He described his experience with a guide dog program in New York state where some young dogs in training were dying from a kidney problem called Lyme nephritis. After instituting a strict program of tick control and vaccination, no dogs were lost to Lyme disease. The speaker became a true believer in prevention.

Mr. Goldstein felt that all dogs in endemic areas such as the Pittsburgh area should be tested yearly. …

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