A series to educate people about this emerging health threat in North East Ohio
By: Dr. Charles Curie DVM
Representative Patterson hosted a Lyme symposium in conjunction with the Lyme Bites support group. The symposium was held at Ashtabula Kent State University Campus and was attended by nearly 100 people from NE Ohio. I was one of the speakers on the panel.
Most in attendance had been directly or indirectly affected by Lyme disease. The testimonials were heart wrenching. Lyme disease is nothing to take lightly and unfortunately it is most often misdiagnosed in humans.
I think we were all moved to near tears by the testimony of a brave 14-year-old girl named Megan who had been confined to a wheel chair because of Lyme disease. Now under the care of a Lyme literate physician she is slowly improving and can now stand and walk again.
Another young woman from Perry told her story about her three children who contracted Lyme disease from her in utero. This is where an infection is transmitted to the unborn fetus. She had no idea that she was infected. The children were misdiagnosed for a long time until she finally pieced the puzzle together and took them to a Lyme specialist in Connecticut. They are all making some progress now.
I shared with the audience the unbelievable rise in ticks and Lyme disease which I have witnessed at my two veterinary clinics. Both the Country Doctor Vet Clinic in Jefferson and the Geneva Vet Clinic in Geneva have experienced an absolute explosion in the number of ticks and Lyme infected dogs.
This is a new phenomenon for North East Ohio. I was born and raised here. I have literally spent my life pursuing outdoor activities with a passion and have practiced veterinary medicine here for the last 36 years. I never dealt with ticks until 6 or 7 years ago.
At that time we began seeing the tick population emerge in the Conneaut area. Initially it was just very sporadic reports. However now it is rampant. The ticks are spreading from east to west and now moving south. We are now seeing many ticks from South County as well, Andover, Williamsfield, Orwell, Rome, Rock Creek. They are everywhere.
We are finding ticks on animals from Conneaut to Perry in amazing numbers. Last year I found my first Jefferson tick on a dog which had never left the village. This year it is becoming more common in Jefferson. We have people in the northern part of our practice areas who tell us they remove 10 -15 ticks from their dog every time they go out in the yard.
And yes I said the yard! These are not farm dogs that are running the fields and woods. They are pets who live in town. Of course the farm and hunting dogs are even more exposed to ticks and Lyme disease.
We have recently diagnosed numerous cases of Lyme disease in dogs and all but one of these lived in town. The exception was a farm dog from the Monroe township area.
These dogs are sick! They have swollen joints, enlarged lymph nodes, lameness, lethargy, depression and poor appetites. Fortunately they have all responded well to treatment. But the long-term effects are yet to be seen.
The purpose of this series on Ticks and Lyme disease is to make the general public aware of these new realities here in NE Ohio. They are here to stay. Nobody can make them go away and the problem is only going to get worse. You can count on that.
It is my goal to make every one Tick and Lyme literate. Know thy enemy! We all need to learn about ticks and Lyme in order to protect ourselves, our family and our pets. We need to be smarter than the bug.
Ticks and Lyme are new to us but they are nothing new to the North East and North West United States. We can learn so much from the knowledge already discovered in these endemic areas.
The next article in the series we will discuss what makes ticks …………tick!