Ticks

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
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Lyme Disease and Ticks

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A series to educate people about this emerging health threat in North East Ohio

By: Dr. Charles Curie DVM

Country Doctor and Geneva Veterinary Clinics Ticks

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.Ticks in dogs ears

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!