Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

by Roy F. Dvorak


Both of these diseases are caused by a tick, a member of a super-family (Ixodoidea) of wingless bloodsucking arachnids, including many species that transmit diseases. The bite of the Ixodes genus tick causes Lyme Disease. The tick attaches itself to the dog and begins to feed. The spirochetes (a spiral shaped bacteria that cause the disease) in the stomach of the tick move to the salivary glands of the tick and then into the host dog. If the tick is discovered within the first 24 hours after attachment, the chance of infection is very small. Appel and Jacobson, in their article CVT Update: Canine Lyme Disease, estimate that about 5% of the dogs in the geographical areas of the U.S. where Lyme Disease is endemic and are exposed to Lyme Disease, become affected, i.e., they develop the clinical signs of the disease. In other words, dogs have a small chance of acquiring Lyme Disease. A type of tetracycline antibiotic is used to kill the Lyme infection. "The proportion of dogs in endemic areas that develop clinical disease is relatively small." The canine citizenry responds fairly well to administered antibiotics.

Arthritis is the main sign of a dog affected with Lyme Disease. In humans the signs are chronic arthritis and "severe central nervous system involvement" according to Appel and Jacobson.

The "Veterinary News" section of the April 1994 AKC Gazette, discuses the Western Blotting test for Lyme Disease. It is used to "conform or refute a positive (antibody) titer and it can also differentiate between a titer caused by a vaccine and a titer caused by natural exposure to the disease".

In severe cases of Lyme Disease, seizures may be evident and they are much more likely to be evident in a human than a dog. Korie does not live or play in an area where ticks are known to live. In the 14 years that we have lived in this home, we have never found ticks on any of our pups after they were either playing or lying down in the grass in our back yard.

The July 28, 1997 issue of TIME Magazine, contains an informative article on Lyme’s disease. It shows a map of the 48 states and indicates the number of reported cases of Lyme’s disease in each state. Three populous states of the midwest, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana had 20, 9, and 31, respectively, reported cases of Lyme's Disease.

Our experience from dog shows is that all dogs are crated. The dog is on a leash for a potty break. You want the dog on grass or gravel or pavement when being walked. You do not allow the show dog to run around in high grasses or weeds that may get tangled up in the dogs furnishings.

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