Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ticks and Lyme Disease

You might recall the hell Luke went through last year as he and The Boys were walking through Ohio. They were crawling with ticks and Luke was afraid they would have to take time off the road because the problem was so serious.

The Boys are now in Connecticut, a state (as is much of the Eastern Seaboard) heavily infested with the ticks that carry Lyme disease, and Luke is rightly concerned that they’ll experience a similar situation as in Ohio.

It is a popular misconception that Lyme disease was discovered in the late 1970's in Lyme, Connecticut. However, medical literature is rich with more than a century of writing about the condition, although most of it has been published only in Europe. The first record of a condition associated with Lyme disease dates back to 1883 in Breslau, Germany.

In 1976, the first US case of clustering of this disease was reported by researchers at the Naval Submarine Medical in Southwestern Connecticut. In 1977, physician Allen Steere et al described the first clustering of the disease misdiagnosed as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. They named this condition 'Lyme arthritis.’ This clustering paved the way for further research into the disease.

Because of the severity of the problem The Boys were experiencing last year, they were put in touch with Vectra 3D, manufactured by Summit VetPharm, and their tick problem was solved. Luke writes, I don't know if any of you visited Ohio last summer but by all accounts it was the worst tick season on record. It was so bad that we almost quit the walk - I picked a total of 120 ticks off of Murphy in two days and to make matters worse they brought them into the tent. All night long I was picking them off of me. I couldn't sleep and quite literally was going mad. A vet turned us onto Vectra 3D and we haven't had a single tick since. Summit Vet Pharm saved the walk.

Vectra 3D offers “6-way protection, repels and kills fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, lice, sand flies and mites. It kills 4 species of ticks, 3 species of mosquitoes, and all stages of fleas. And it repels and kills ticks that may cause Lyme Disease Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a host of other diseases. Vectra is only available from licensed veterinarians” and is NOT to be applied to cats, although VetPharm does carry a similar product for cats.

For additional information, contact VetPharm at 1-800-999-0297 or surf to their web page. Read the entire label before each use, follow directions exactly, and use only on dogs or puppies over 7 weeks old. It is not to be used on animals with compromised immune systems, and check with your vet before you use it on your geriatric dog. “Do not use this product on debilitated, aged, medicated, pregnant or nursing animals, or animals known to be sensitive to pesticide products without first consulting a veterinarian.”

Vectra 3D contains the following: Dinotefuran (4.9%), Pyriproxyfen (0.44%), Permethrin (36.08%), and other ingredients (58.53%). For further information on their products at their site.

Here’s a bit more information for those of you who are interested in the science and medicine of Lyme disease.

Parasites that transmit disease are called vectors. When an infected vector, such as a tick or mosquito, bites your pet, it could make your pet very sick. Many of us in the South are more familiar with Heartworm (spread by mosquitoes) than the folks in the North and East who may have more experience with Lyme disease, but both are examples of diseases spread by vectors.

VetPharm has an excellent chart on their website showing vector borne diseases in dogs.

As you probably know, Canine Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks (or related ticks). What you may not know is in areas where the disease is common, up to 75% of dogs will test positive for exposure. The good news is is that it is believed that only 5-10% of these positive dogs will ever show clinical signs of disease. However, Lyme disease is present in all 48 of the mainland United States. 85% of cases in humans and dogs are found in the eastern coastal states, from Massachusetts to Virginia, 10% of cases are seen in the Upper Midwest states and 4% are in Northern California. All other states combined make up the last 1%.

These deer (and related) ticks, feed on humans, small mice, deer, and other animals that they are able to latch onto. After latching on, the deer tick takes a blood meal and in doing so passes on the Lyme disease causing spirochetes to the animal's blood stream. The tick must remain attached for as much as 2-3 days in order to take a complete meal, and is able to transmit the spirochetes during this time. These ticks exhibit a 2 year life cycle, making certain seasons most common for new Lyme infections.

As with other diseases, Lyme disease can affect individual pets differently. Some animals may display no symptoms. Other animals may develop fever, loss of appetite, painful joints, lethargy, and vomiting. If left untreated, the spirochete may damage the eyes, heart, kidneys, and nervous system. Lyme disease has been diagnosed in humans, dogs, cats, horses, goats, and cattle. Other species may also be at risk.

Protecting Your Pet

This link has some great suggestions for protecting your pets from Lyme disease, but here are the highlights:

(1) When necessary, apply tick-killing chemicals to your animals in order to protect them from disease spreading ticks. Precautions should be taken when applying insecticides as some animals may be sensitive to the chemicals. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.

(2) Take precautions to guard against ticks when entering tick habitat, such as grassy, shrubby, wooded, or beach grass areas. Cut/mow grassy areas regularly to reduce tick habitation.

(3) Conduct frequent Tick-Checks! Examine animals closely in order to detect embedded ticks.

(4) Remove attached ticks properly and promptly to reduce the chance of transmission of the LD bacterium. Place fine point tweezers around the tick's mouthparts (the place where the tick is attached) and gently pull upwards until the tick detaches. Do not use your bare fingers! Disinfect the bite site and tweezers after removal. Wash your hands.

(5) Have your animal(s) examined as soon as possible if you notice any symptoms of disease; the sooner a disease is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.

As with all chemicals and pesticides, decide what’s best for your particular pet and situation.

While Luke was hesitant to apply any chemicals to Hudson and Murphy, he had to weigh the risks from disease against the use of chemicals. And because all three Boys were literally covered in ticks on a daily basis, Luke chose to use Vectra 3D, a product that worked when no other product did.

It’s an educated decision we all have to make, especially as we find ourselves finally approaching Spring and fun outside with our animals. Do the research, consult with your vet and friends, and decide what options are best for you.

Here’s to a wonderful and healthy Spring and Summer! Puppy up!

Please Note: Per the FTC Final Guides Governing Endorsements and Testimonials, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Summit VetPharm is a donor of Vectra 3D for Hudson and Murphy. The experiences with the product expressed here are those of Luke Robinson. Please consult your own veterinarian before using this or any product on or for your animal(s).

1 comment:

Amy (Angel Thunders Mom) said...

Hi Eric and Luke, I use Buck Mountain Herbal Gold. When Thunder was undergoing Chemo Frontline did not work. His holistic vet recommended this and once applied we had no more problems with ticks. I still use this on Megan and have had no problems as all. Just thought I would throw out an alternative :-: Keep on pupping....

Amy (Angle Thunder) and Beggin Megan