Source: Unsplash (Royalty-free)

The November 2018 issue of Veterinary Practice reported an increasing exposure risk of Lyme disease to UK dogs. Infection with the bacterial spirochaete, Borrelia burgdorferi, typically peaks in the spring and autumn months corresponding to the heightened feeding activity of the primary vector, species of the Ixodes tick. However, writing in Veterinary Practice, Lancashire based vet Ian Wright BVMS, MSc MRCVS evidenced a worrying increase in Lyme disease exposure throughout the summer months.

Heading up the European Scientific Counsel of Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) for the UK and Ireland, Ian summarised his 2018 Liverpool University SAVSNET and Public Health England Tick Surveillance Scheme (TSS) data as indicating the potential exposure of UK dogs to the bites of Borrelia infected ticks at any time of year.

Co-owner of The Mount Veterinary Practice in Fleetwood, Ian acknowledged the uncertainty underlying the cause of this increased tick activity. The UK’s milder climate, increases in green spaces linking the countryside to the urban environment and growing contact with wildlife reservoirs such as deer, are all proposed as possible factors.

Most dogs infected with B.burgdorferi show no clinical signs though five to ten percent show severe symptoms including recurring bouts of acute arthritis, lameness, fever, anorexia, fatigue, lymphadenopathy with subsequent debilitating illness. Lyme disease in humans is also reported as increasing year on year, though there is no suggestion that dog ownership increases the risk of human infection.

Source: NHS

Treatment with doxycycline or amoxycillin is reported as effective given a sufficiently early diagnosis. However, without the definitive ‘bullseye’ skin rash seen in cases of Lyme’s in humans, early signs of infection may easily be overlooked.

Over the last ten years, reports Ian, although there has been no increase in canine B.burgdorferi infection, there is an increase in the risk of Lyme disease primarily from the increased risk of exposure the Ixodes tick. Studies show that just over two percent of ticks taken from dogs carry the causative spirochaete bacteria.

Prevention is clearly the best option. For dogs exercised among long grass, bracken or close to wild or domesticated livestock, the use of proprietary canine anti-parasite products will reduce the ability of ticks to linger and feed. Reducing the chance of tick-borne Lyme infection will also reduce the chances of infection with other vector mediated diseases such as Anaplasma and Babesia spp.

Because early diagnosis of Borrelia burgdorferi infection is critical to the successful treatment of Lyme Borreliosis disease, a quick, reliable and convenient diagnostic test is a potential life saver. The ideal diagnostic for Borrelia and other potentially life threatening tick borne infections including Anaplasma and Babesia spp should self-contained, ready to use straight from the shelf and offer a clear-cut colour-change response.


Source: Tick Encounter

Winter may offer vets some respite from the need to approach symptoms similar to Borrelia with an expectation of Lyme disease. Whatever the season, a FASTest LYME Diagnostic, requiring only room temperature storage and with a shelf life of up to eighteen months, provides assurance that fast diagnosis and an early start of effective treatment is always to hand.

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