Month: January 2014

Lyme disease and ticks Third article in the series

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I want to apologize about publishing the delay of this third article on ticks. No excuses just got behind and never got to it. Here it is the last article on ticks and then we will move on to other subjects to discuss!

By Dr. Charles Curie

Preventing tick infestation

The best way to prevent Lyme and other tick transmitted diseases is by preventing tick infestation. In this article we will investigate tick prevention products, and other recommendations to reduce exposure to the blood sucking disease-spreading parasite.

The first step in prevention is acknowledging that the problem exists. In the previous two articles in this series I provided plenty of information that confirms the rapidly growing tick and Lyme disease problem in Ashtabula and Lake Counties.

A recent e-mail update from the Companion Animal Parasite Counsel (CAPC) confirms this all once again. They indicate that so far this year there has been 30 new cases of Lyme in dogs in Ashtabula County. This data is based upon information from the two largest diagnostic labs in the country.

Ashtabula County Lyme cases represent 13% of all the Lyme cases in Ohio. The next highest county only represents 1.7% of the state’s cases. So that simply put means we are by far and away the Lyme hot spot.

The researchers go on to state that this statistic represents less than 30% of the true Lyme activity in the county. As I’ve said ticks and Lyme disease are a big deal here.

Don’t think that just because you are not seeing the ticks and haven’t experienced the disease that it will not affect you! Ticks and Lyme are here and definitely here to stay. The problem is only going to become worse.

Tick Talk

Oh that lucky dog!!

Yep when it comes to ticks and Lyme disease the dogs are the lucky ones. We have a great Lyme vaccine which we have been using on all our canine patients at the Country Doctor and Geneva Veterinary Clinics for the last year.

Having completed the first year of this we have now vaccinated most of our K9 patients. What a relief knowing that so many are now protected! This will remain a part of our vaccination protocol forever now.

There are also several really good tick prevention products available for dogs. These monthly topical applications safely and effectively prevent both fleas and ticks. These pests will die within several hours after arriving on the dog.

Vectra

This is very important because they will never have a chance to reproduce, and the time spent feeding before they die will be very short. There is plenty of evidence that the risk of disease transmission increases dramatically the longer the ticks stay attached and feed. So a quick death greatly reduces the risk of the spread of disease.

Another extremely important factor here is that a good tick product on your pets will almost eliminate the worry about them bringing ticks into your home and bed. Ticks in people’s beds tends to really freak them out.

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The one thing we hear every day from our clients is that the flea and tick products they purchase over the counter do not work. Yea we know. People have been telling me this for the last 36 years. It is just a fact.

I understand why pet owners try these less expensive options. But at the end of the day they become more expensive because you still need to buy a good prescription flea and tick product and possibly spend money on vet bills for the diseases caused by fleas and ticks.

It is easier and cheaper to do it once and be done with the problem.

Cats and other animals do not have it so good. No vaccine and very limited selection of tick prevention products! Check with us or your regular veterinarian to see what will work best for your cat. The other species are pretty much out of luck when it comes to flea and tick preventives and Lyme vaccine.

What about people. Well we are one of the other not so lucky species. No vaccine and no good preventive products. It is recommended that we layer clothing so the ticks have to crawl up to our head to find bare skin to feed on. They will be easier to find on your neck and head. So pants inside socks, shirt inside pants etc.

It is also recommended to spray your clothing down with a mosquito repellant which contains a high concentration of DEET. There is also clothing sprays which contain permethrin.

Other measures include daily tick checks. Closely scrutinize your own and your children’s body for ticks. If you find one remove it carefully with a pair of tweezers. Grasp it near the head and apply steady pressure away from your skin. This will cause the tick to release its grip in your skin. Take the tick to the county health department. They can send it to Ohio State to be identified for a small fee.

Develop tick-safe zones around your home by keeping the yard mowed; remove leaf litter, mulch the yard edge and applying anti-tick insecticide chemicals to the yard. The best time to apply these chemicals is late May early June and again in the fall for deer ticks.

These are good recommendations. However for many of us who work outdoors in tick infested areas or who have built our homes in the woods we must realize that there simply isn’t a practical solution to the problem.

For these people daily tick checks are extremely important as is tick prevention for our pets so they don’t bring the ticks into our homes.

Being a veterinarian I cannot really comment on Lyme disease in people or offer medical advice. However I do tell everyone to be proactive with their own health issues. If you think you have been exposed to tick bites and Lyme disease, or if you have unexplainable aches and pains, flu-like symptoms that do not improve you must be insistent about Lyme testing. If you are not getting anywhere find a Lyme literate physician.

For me the biggest lesson learned at the Ashtabula Kent State Lyme Symposium was that most people are misdiagnosed for a very long time and they become progressively debilitated as time goes on.

My staff will be glad to answer all questions regarding ticks and Lyme disease in pets. Just give us a call at the Geneva Vet Clinic 440-361-4363 or the Country Doctor Vet Clinic 440-576-9440.

Check out these great websites for a wealth of information:

  • tickapp.tamu.edu/
  • capcvet.org
  • tickencounter.org/
  • dogsandticks.com