What Does The Lyme Multiplex Assay Measure
The Lyme Multiplex assay quantifies antibodies directed against specific proteins on the surface of B. burgdorferi at three different stages of the bacterial life cycle. This antibody profile can indicate whether an animal has been recently infected or is chronically infected with B. burgdorferi. It can also be used to monitor protective antibodies after vaccination.
Dogs As Sentinels Of Human Disease
While dogs may increase our risk of disease by bringing ticks home, a new study shows how they can also alert us to the risk for Lyme disease.
Because the CDC reporting criteria is very restrictive, many cases of human Lyme disease are not represented on the CDC maps. This has led to the incorrect perception that Lyme only exists in the Northeastern portions of the U.S.
In fact, the risk for Lyme disease is everywhere. Companion Animal Parasite Council is an independent council comprised of veterinarians, parasitologists and animal health care professionals. It has been studying the prevalence of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in dogs since 2002.
CAPCs latest research clearly shows how mans best friend continues to safeguard humans as a sentinel to alert humans where they are at greatest risk for Lyme disease, said Christopher Carpenter, DVM and executive director of CAPC. The model established in this research breaks new ground to give residents, travelers and health care providers a county-level map to help them identify areas of risk across the country.
By mapping the prevalence of Lyme disease in dogs, the researchers can predict where the risk is highest for humans. To see where your risk is highest for the three most common tick-borne diseases , visit CAPCs interactive map here. Click on your state, zoom into your county, then use the drop-down box to scroll between the three different diseases reported over the past eight years.
Lyme Disease: A Pet Owner’s Guide
Lyme disease is an illness that affects both animals and humans what is known as a zoonotic disease and is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Transmitted through tick bites, the disease can be difficult to detect and can cause serious and recurring health problems. Therefore, it is best to prevent infection by taking appropriate measures to prevent tick bites and, for dogs, possibly vaccinating against the disease.
The bacterium that causes Lyme disease a worm-like, spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi is carried and transmitted primarily by the tiny black-legged tick known as the deer tick. Deer ticks are found in forests or grassy, wooded, marshy areas near rivers, lakes or oceans. People or animals may be bitten by deer ticks during outdoor activities such as hiking or camping, or even while spending time in their back yards.
Named after numerous cases were identified in Lyme, Conn., in 1975, the disease has since been reported in humans and animals across the United States and around the world. Within the U.S., it appears primarily in specific areas including the southern New England states eastern Mid-Atlantic states the upper Midwest, particularly Wisconsin and Minnesota and on the West Coast, particularly northern California. The CDC maintains a map detailing confirmed cases of Lyme disease throughout the years.
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What Diseases Are Spread By The Brown Dog Tick
As mentioned, Brown Dog Ticks can spread disease to both dogs and humans at multiple stages of the life cycle, particularly Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever . This disease is dangerous to both humans and dogs and can even be fatal.
At both the nymphal and adult stages, the Brown Dog Tick can also spread canine Ehrlichiosis and canine Babesiosis to dogs.
Protection Against Lyme Disease Is Focused On Tick Control And Vaccination
Additional Cornell resources:
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by ticks, and it affects both dogs and humans. It is most common in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest, although the range has been increasing in North America. While ticks are often associated with warmer weather, they can be active year-round if the temperature is above 40°F.
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American Dog Tick Diseases & Threats
The American dog tick is the primary vector of Rocky Mountain spotted fever , which is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsia. According to the CDC, Rocky Mountain spotted fever has been a nationally recognized condition since the 1920s. Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever include high fever, chills, muscle aches and headaches. A rash that may spread across the extremities occurs in some cases. It usually develops 2-4 days after the fever begins. The disease is treated with antibiotics, but can be fatal if left untreated.
Another disease American dog ticks are known to transmit is tularemia, which is caused by the bacterium Fracisella tularensis. It is transmitted from rabbits, mice, squirrels and other small animals. Symptoms include fever, chills and tender lymph nodes. An ulcer may form at the tick bite site.
In addition, American dog ticks can cause tick paralysis, which can lead to severe respiratory distress and muscle weakness in those affected. If you believe you have contracted one of the American dog tick diseases mentioned above, please call a healthcare professional.
Can Dogs Get Lyme Disease
Yes, our beloved pups can be infected with Lyme disease.
Lyme disease infections in dogs are growing more and more common as the years go by, though only 5-10% of dogs will develop severe symptoms.
When a dog does develop Lyme disease symptoms, their disease can manifest in many ways.
This condition can not only impact a dogs quality of life, but it can even be fatal in some cases.
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How Are Dogs Tested For Lyme Disease
Diagnosis is made by a combination of history, physical signs, and diagnostics. For dogs, the two blood tests for diagnosing Lyme disease are called the C6 Test and Quant C6 test. Veterinarians perform both.
The C6 test detects antibodies against a protein called C6. Presence of the antibodies suggests an active Lyme infection. The C6 antibodies can be detected three to five weeks after an infected tick bites a dog and may be found in the bloodstream even before the dog shows signs of illness.
The next step is to do a Quant C6 test. This, along with urinalysis will help determine if antibiotic treatment is necessary.
Cofactors That Increase The Risk Of Lyme Disease
You now know that your dog is more likely to develop symptoms of Lyme disease if there is a coinfection.
But I bet you want to know what these underlying cofactors are.
This is where it gets weird
Dr Rau discovered that certain vaccines were cofactors for Lyme disease. And that includes the tick-borne meningoencephalitis vaccine.
Now, it isnt known whether the Lyme vaccine for dogs is a cofactor. And that is because they conducted the research on the human population.
But, I can tell you that the LYMERix human Lyme disease vaccine was only used for 18 months between 1998 and 2000. After that thye pulled off the market amidst reports of serious adverse events. And because the vaccine may have caused Lyme-like arthritis.
And they have not developed a new Lyme vaccine for humans since.
Did you catch that?
They pulled the human Lyme vaccine from the market because of safety concerns. Yet vaccination for Lyme disease is still recommended for your dogs.
Evidence is mounting that it could be this very vaccine that acts as a cofactor. That it allows Lyme to progress from flu-like symptoms into a debilitating disease.
Dr Rau explains the relationship in this short video:
Its time to stop fear
Other important cofactors for Lyme disease include:
- chronic inflammation
- other bacteria and fungi
- heavy metals and toxins
Dr Rau Dr Rau also found that all the patients in his study who reached Stage 3 had unbalanced fatty acid profiles.
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How To Diagnose Lyme Disease In Dogs
As we mentioned above, Lyme disease is a bit more challenging to detect in our furry friends.
Most cases of Lyme disease in dogs are diagnosed with a combination of reviewing their clinical signs, assessing their risk of exposure to Lyme disease, and a series of blood tests.
However, some blood tests may only be positive when their body has produced a detectable level of antibodies, meaning false negatives are common.
If your veterinarian fears Lyme disease in your canine friend, the standard diagnostic options they will explore include the C6 SNAP test and the Quantitative C6 test.
The C6 SNAP test is a preliminary test that can be performed in their office, while the QC6 test will require a blood sample to be examined in a lab.
The snap test searches for the presence of antibodies released by the Lyme disease bacterium, while the QC6 can measure the specific levels of antibodies present.
This can also help your vet determine how aggressive their treatment will need to be.
Its also important to note that your veterinarian may suggest performing a full panel of blood work to measure their kidney enzymes, as some cases of Lyme disease can have a devastating impact on the dogs kidney function.
Other Canine Diseases Carried By Ticks
Ticks can also carry several other less common but serious bacterial diseases affecting dogs, including anaplasmosis and babesiosis.
Anaplasmosis can involve symptoms similar to those for Lyme disease. Babesiosis can present with a wide range of symptoms, from sudden and severe shock, high fever, and dark urine to a slowly progressing infection with more subtle clinical signs. Diagnosis of both diseases includes blood tests similar to those used to check for Lyme disease.
Sometimes, dogs and people can become sick with co-infection of multiple tick-borne diseases, where more than one type of disease-causing bacteria is transmitted through a tick bite. This situation can make diagnosis and treatment even more challenging and difficult.
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Zoonosis And Human Transmission
Lyme disease can infect both dogs and humans. Humans do not get Lyme directly from dogs, but rather from the same deer-ticks that can infect people. Limit the opportunities for your pet to bring ticks into your spaces by implementing tick control measures.
Make sure to check both of your bodies for ticks after being in areas with a high prevalence, as well as after being in tall grass, forest litter and brushing against other vegetation.
If My Dog Tests Positive Does This Necessitate Treatment
Veterinarians are able to effectively treat most tick-borne infections however, the decision of whether to treat an asymptomatic dog remains a point of controversy. Dr. Adam Birkenheuer, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, an Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease specialist at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine recommends treatment after a positive test, followed by a complete blood cell count, serum biochemistry and urinalysis in 6 month intervals for 1 year. According to Dr. Birkenheuer “There are currently no evidence-based recommendations on whether or not to treat your pet if he or she is found to be exposed to a tick-transmitted infection like Ehrlichia or Borrelia. Some doctors may recommend treatment while others may not. The most important thing is to continue to monitor your pet for signs of illness with examinations and laboratory testing. I recommend this yearly for the rest of the pet’s life.”
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Testing For Lyme Disease In Dogs
Lyme disease spread by ticks can be diagnosed with a simple blood tests in your veterinarian’s clinic. The C6 test is very sensitive and specific at diagnosing cases of Lyme disease and depending on clinical signs and concurrent results, treatment may be started immediately. If treatment has been successful, reductions in the QC6 at six months should be lower than the starting point.
How Is The Lyme Multiplex Assay Different From The Assay My Veterinarian Can Perform
Your veterinarian can perform a quick assay in-house that checks for antibodies against only one B. burgdorferi surface protein. The in-house assay cannot detect early infection, cannot determine vaccination status, and does not quantify the amount of antibodies your animal is producing. Quantifying antibodies is an important measure for successful treatment and to confirm cure from Lyme disease.
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About Ticks And Lyme Disease
Ticks are small crawling bugs in the spider family. They are arachnids, not insects. There are hundreds of different kinds of ticks in the world. Many of them carry bacteria, viruses or other pathogens that cause disease in humans and/or animals.
In the midwestern and eastern United States, Ixodes scapularis or deer tick is the primary vector of Lyme disease. On the West Coast, the spirochete is carried by Ixodes pacificus or western black-legged tick. In the South, lone star ticks can also transmit Lyme disease or a closely related illness.
Ticks have four life stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. In each stage after hatching, they suck blood from animals like mice, squirrels, birds and deer. Then they drop off, enter a dormant period and molt to enter the next stage.
Ticks dont start out being infected with Lyme. They get it by feeding on an infected animal, often a mouse or other small rodent. Then, they pass it along to the next animal or person they bite.
Treating Dog Lyme Disease
If the diagnosis is Lyme disease, your dog will be treated as an outpatient unless their condition is unstable . Doxycycline is the most common antibiotic that is prescribed for Lyme disease, but other antibiotics are also effective.
Treatment usually takes at least 4 weeks, and longer courses may be necessary in some cases. Your veterinarian may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory if your dog is especially uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, antibiotic treatment does not always completely eliminate the infection from Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Symptoms may resolve but then return at a later date, and the development of kidney disease in the future is always a concern.
Administering the antibiotics properly to your dog reduces the likelihood of chronic consequences.
Improvement in sudden inflammation of the joints caused by Borrelia should be seen after 3-5 days of antibiotic treatment. If there is no improvement within 3-5 days, your veterinarian will want to reevaluate your dog.
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Can We Test Fluids Other Than Serum
Yes, CSF samples can be submitted from horses with neurological signs. The CSF sample needs to be submitted together with a serum sample from the same animal and taken at the same time. The relative increase of antibodies in CSF can indicate local production of antibodies in the CNS. Typically, one or two antibody values are increased more than 2-fold if B. burgdorferi contributes to the neurologic condition.
For other samples, contact the lab first .
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed
Dogs with lameness, swollen joints, and fever are suspected of having Lyme disease. However, other diseases may also cause these symptoms. There are a few blood tests that may be used for confirmation. The first is an antibody test, that your veterinarian can perform in the clinic setting using a special test kit. This test detects the presence of antibodies created by exposure to the organism. A test can be falsely negative if the dog is infected, but has not yet formed antibodies, or if it never forms enough antibodies to cause a positive reaction. It is recommended to test no earlier than 4 weeks after a tick bite. Some dogs that have been infected for long periods of time may no longer have enough antibodies present to be detected by the test. Therefore, a positive test is meaningful, but a negative is not. A follow up test called a QC6 test can be done to assess the numerical antibody level as confirmation.
Other tests including PCR , ELISA , joint fluid analysis, and culture can also be done with varying degrees of sensitivity, but are done less commonly. General blood and urine tests are also often done to assess kidney function and look for loss of protein in the urine. See handout Testing for Lyme Disease in Dogs for further information.
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Thorough And Frequent Tick Checks
The war on ticks cant take place on just one front you have to devote time and constant vigilance to prevent sneak attacks on your dog. Practice these anti-enemy missions on a regular basis:
Check for ticks during and after every outdoor venture. Especially examine your dogs legs, armpits, belly, neck, and face. Ticks naturally travel toward dark and/or warm, blood-rich areas of the dog. Remember: The goal is to find the ticks when they are still tiny, before they are engorged with blood. The transmission of the Lyme-causing spirochete does not happen until 24 hours after the tick begins feeding.
Take extra time to examine your dog for the presence of ticks when the pests are at their most active. Ticks increase their movements in mid-morning, from about 8am until about 11am the largest number of ticks emerge on sunny days. Ticks are also most active from April through October.
Using a flea comb helps detect and remove tiny ticks. Drop the ticks you find into a container of tick-killing solution. Do not squish them or toss them away the tiny creatures can survive this treatment.
Lyme Disease In Pets Symptoms And Treatment
Pets infected with Lyme disease may not show any signs for 2-5 months. After that time, typical symptoms include:
- Joint swelling
Recurrent lameness also is possible, and the involved extremity may be tender. Inflammation of the joint can last from days to weeks, and may migrate from one extremity to another.
Horses with Lyme disease can develop lameness, joint pain, neurologic disease, eye problems and dermatitis.
Symptomatically, Lyme disease can be difficult to distinguish from anaplasmosis because the signs of the diseases are very similar, and they occur in essentially the same areas of the country. Lyme disease is diagnosed through a blood test that shows whether an animal has been exposed to the bacterium.
Antibiotics usually provide effective treatment for Lyme disease. However, its important to follow your veterinarians advice regarding follow-up care after your pet has been diagnosed with and treated for the disease.
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