Important Information About Lyme Disease
Lyme disease was first recognised in 1975, when there was a large outbreak in a town called Old Lyme in Connecticut. Lyme disease is a rare, chronic infection caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria that spreads between humans and other animals. Infection is caused by being bitten by an infected tick. It is most common from May to September.
Lyme disease is incredibly rare – less than two people per 100,000 will contract the disease per year. However, according to recent research by the University of Bristol, Lyme disease is a growing problem in the UK. The study looked at over 4000 dogs, and discovered that 14.9% had ticks, 2% of which had Lyme disease. It is therefore important that dog owners, walkers and groomers are aware of the disease, however unlikely contagion is, for the sake of their own health and that of the dogs in their care.
Although ticks are quite a common issue for canines, Lyme disease only very rarely affects dogs. This is because most dogs build up a resistance to the disease. It is mainly puppies and adolescent dogs that are affected. Dogs that do contract the disease may experience recurrent lameness due to inflamed joints. They may also suffer from a lack of appetite, a fever or difficulty breathing. In time, if Lyme disease is left untreated it can go on to affect the kidneys and the nervous system. If you are concerned about your dog and Lyme disease, you will need to give your vet a full medical history. Lyme disease is easily treated with antibiotics.
It is important to monitor and treat your dog for ticks on a regular basis as a precautionary measure, against both Lyme disease and for their general health. Use a topical repellent against ticks such as Groomers Ridasect Shampoo. You should also regularly examine your dog for ticks, especially around its head, neck and ears. Ensure that you check with gloves on (never use bare fingers), and use a flea comb to divide and examine the fur.
If you do discover a tick, never burn it off with a match or cigarette. Instead, use a Tick Pick, which is specifically designed to remove ticks from canines. Remove the tick by grasping it as close to the skin as possible. Do not twist the body – instead, firmly grasp the tick and pull straight out. Do not crush the body, and try not to remove the head, as this can cause infection if it is left in the skin.
Human indications of Lyme disease include a rash from the tick bite, followed by flu-like symptoms. Lyme disease can go on to cause arthritis and nerve damage. If caught earlier, however, Lyme disease is easily treated with antibiotics.
If you discover a tick on your person, remove it carefully with tweezers as previously explained. If a rash occurs after removal of the tick, seek medical advice. To avoid ticks while walking your dog this summer, wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers in light colours, which allow you to see potential ticks more easily.