How Do I Keep My Cat Safe From Lyme Disease
If you live in a tick-infested area, your cat is more vulnerable, and you should take extra precautions to avoid or reduce tick exposure. Tick repellents for cats are the most effective way to avoid and prevent Lyme disease. If your cat is outdoors a lot of the time, make sure you check it regularly for ticks and remove them as soon as you can.
No vaccine is available to protect cats against Lyme disease because it is uncommon. The best prevention is to keep your cat tick-free, especially during the tick season.
One Of The Scariest Things I Have Ever Been Through: Rare Tick
Now, they say theyve identified 35 distinctive biomarkers that distinguish people with either type of Lyme disease from those without the condition. In a news release, researchers say they plan to use the biomarkers to develop a diagnostic test that could identify the condition in other patients.
A genetic test would be an improvement on current FDA-approved tests, which identify antibodies that can take weeks to emerge.
The research was conducted by scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Earlier this year, several of the researchers from Johns Hopkins published a study along with scientists from the University of California at San Francisco announcing that they had developed a panel of 31 biomarkers that allowed them to accurately identify Lyme disease in 95.2 percent of patients.
Can You Use A Serology Test To Diagnose The First Stage Of Lyme Disease
Serology antibody tests are generally more helpful for second and third stages of Lyme disease than first stage Lyme disease. Antibodies take weeks to develop, and if the initial presentation of Lyme disease is in the early stage those antibody tests may be falsely negative because the immune system has not yet had enough time to produce antibodies. If a physician is suspicious of Lyme disease but cannot make a diagnosis by the rash, then the antibody test in that first stage should be repeated 3 to 4 weeks later since a Lyme disease diagnosis can be missed with a false negative test in the first few weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using a two-step testing process. If an ELISA test is positive, it is then followed by a Western blot test. However, this antibody-based testing system can produce some false positive results and high numbers of false negative results, particularly in early infection.
In addition, the immune response to borrelia is heterogeneous, and not all cases are captured by current antibody-based diagnostics. Antibody testing can also be a problem in patients with early disease who are treated with antibiotics. In these cases, a follow up antibody test done after treatment may be negative and never turn positive.
A negative antibody test does not necessarily rule out Lyme disease and should always be considered in the context of a full health history and clinical assessment.
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Possible Complications To Watch For With Lyme Disease
Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about your dogs condition.
- Some dogs who take antibiotics can develop loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Once infected, a dog will always have the bacteria that cause Lyme disease in his or her body. Therefore, relapses are possible, and owners should be on the lookout for unexplained fever, swollen lymph nodes, and/or lameness.
- A small percentage of dogs develop kidney failure as a result of Lyme disease. Clinical signs include vomiting, weight loss, poor appetite, lethargy, increased thirst and urination, and abnormal accumulations of fluid within the body.
Antibiotics Cant Kill Parasites
Lyme bacteria love to hide inside parasites. Just like you, parasites have a microbiota. You may have a mix of good and bad microbes in your gut. But parasites are a Pandoras box of terrible microbes one being Lyme.
Even if you get rid of Lyme in the rest of your body, the bacteria hiding in parasites can reinfect you. This is why the disease may come back, despite long and intense antibiotic treatment. But the Lyme inside the parasites is protected and will reinfect the host. It may be impossible to conquer Lyme without getting rid of the Lyme carrying parasites because its addressing the infection in the wrong order.
Antibiotics also do not always travel past the blood/brain barrier. If the Lyme disease bacteria have settled there, they may not be affected at all.
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Can Cats Get Lyme Disease What You Should Know
Owning a cat, especially one that enjoys roaming outdoors, comes with the concern of seasonal ticks. As a human, it is concerning to find a tick firmly attached to your skin, and it evokes immediate worry about tick bite fever and even Lyme disease. It is not much different for our cats, but as a cat owner, you do not need to be overly concerned.
Even though the bacteria that causes Lyme disease can infect cats, the disease has never been seen in a cat outside of a laboratory setting. Lyme disease in cats is possible but very uncommon.
Although the chances are very rare, it is sensible to understand how the disease is transmitted and the symptoms of infection in your pets.
When A Lyme Diagnosis Is Tricky
There are several reasons it can be hard to diagnose Lyme disease.
Tests are less accurate for a short period of time after you first become infected. Thats because Lyme tests look for proteins created by your immune system to help you fight off infection , rather than for the infection itself, and it can take a few weeks for your body to make enough antibodies to cause a positive test.
The only sure sign of Lyme disease is an erythema migrans rash, which often has a bullseye shape. But up to 30% of people who get Lyme disease never get a rash. It is also possible that a person may not notice a rash before it goes away.
Symptoms of Lyme disease like fever and body aches can also be caused by other illnesses. This may result in Lyme diagnoses being missed because symptoms are attributed to another illness.
Using todays tests, it is difficult to distinguish between an old Lyme disease infection and a new one.
Thats why Lyme disease cases may be missed, and as many as 40% of Lyme disease cases are not diagnosed until a later stage of the disease. By that time, Lyme disease is harder to treat, and long-term complications are more likely, so an early, accurate diagnosis is very important.
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Current Problems With Lyme Disease Diagnosis & Patient Care
- Diagnostic tests cannot yet accurately identify the earliest stage of Lyme disease when making the diagnosis is crucial.
- The rash is not always present or easily recognized
- Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis can make Lyme disease more difficult to treat and lead to prolonged and debilitating illness
- Early symptoms can be mistaken for a summer flu
- Lyme disease can involve several parts of the body, including joints, connective tissue, heart, brain, and nerves, and produce different symptoms at different times.
- Antibody testing done after early treatment may be negative and never turn positive for some cases
- Borrelia burgdorferi can evade our protective immune system and trigger immune system dysfunction.
- No reliable blood test is presently available to measure treatment success, necessitating close clinical follow up and improved physician education.
- Presently there is no vaccine to prevent Lyme disease available to humans.
Racial Differences In Incidence
Lyme disease is reported primarily in whites, although it occurs in individuals of all races. No genetic explanation is known for this the disparity most likely stems from social or environmental factors and possibly to the fact that erythema migrans is more difficult to diagnose in dark-skinned individuals.
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Other Canine Diseases Carried By Ticks
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.
What Is The Difference Between This Indirect Blood Diagnostic Test And A Direct Test
Direct diagnostic tests measure the presence of the bacteria directly and are much more reliable than tests looking for indirect measurement of antibodies that measure a persons immune response to an infection. Lyme disease diagnoses and disease management would benefit from validated diagnostic tests that directly measure the infection such as a culture, PCR test, or antigen detection tests. Direct tests are vital to the management of other infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis C, strep, and COVID-19, but have not yet become widely available for Lyme disease.
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Treatment For Lyme Disease In Cats
According to research, cats treated immediately for tick-borne diseases have a better chance of full recovery than cats treated later.
Your veterinarian may recommend an antibiotic for your cat, but it may not suit all felines. They are typically prescribed for 30 days, but some cats may require additional courses to prevent flare-ups. Animals usually feel better after one or two doses even if they are feeling better, they must complete the entire duration of antibiotics.
If they do not improve quickly, other diagnoses should be considered. Some cats may benefit from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or other pain relievers, and others may require IV fluid therapy, kidney medications, anti-nausea medications, and nutritional support if the cases are more severe.
What Do My Test Results Mean
If both tests come back positive, that means you have had Lyme disease at some point in time.
If either or both of your tests come back negative, your doctor may still diagnose Lyme disease, particularly if you recently developed Lyme-like symptoms, regardless of your test results. But, if your doctor does not diagnose you with Lyme disease, you can ask to be re-tested in a few weeks. If you do have Lyme disease, your body may build up sufficient antibodies by that point to be detected by a blood test.
Two-step blood testing for later stages of Lyme disease is more accurate than for early infection because your body should have had sufficient time to produce the antibodies detected by diagnostic tests.
Interpreting the Western blot test
The Western blot test looks at whether you have an immune response the production of IgM or IgG antibodies to specific proteins on the Lyme disease bacteria. IgM antibodies are usually made by your body when the infection is new and recent, while IgG antibodies are usually made some weeks later. When the IgM or IgG antibodies combine with specific proteins from the Lyme disease bacteria, this produces dark spots, or bands on the Western blot test strip.
The CDC considers a Western blot test to be positive for Lyme disease if at least two of three IgM bands are positive within 30 days of symptom onset, or five of 10 IgG bands are positive at any time.
If your Western blot test comes back negative, ask your doctor:
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Do I Need A Lyme Disease Test
Your doctor will consider whether your symptoms and risk factors suggest Lyme disease when deciding whether you need a Lyme test. Laboratory tests can support a clinical diagnosis, but should not be used on their own to confirm or rule out a current Lyme disease diagnosis.
Your doctor may also do tests to see if other conditions with similar or overlapping symptoms for example, thyroid disease, autoimmune disease, or other tick-borne diseases could be causing your symptoms. If you have been traveling, your doctor might test you for species of Borrelia that cause Lyme disease in other parts of the world.
If you think you may have Lyme disease, but your doctor hasnt considered it or has ruled it out before testing you for it, heres how you can start a conversation: Give your doctor a list of Lyme disease symptoms and risk factors , and ask them if, given your own symptoms and risk factors, Lyme disease could be a possible cause and whether you should be tested.
In some cases, a Lyme test may not be helpful. Using todays tests it is difficult to distinguish between current and previous infections, so if you were previously diagnosed with Lyme disease and may have been re-infected, your doctor should make the diagnosis based on your symptoms and risk factors.
Can You Get Lyme Disease From Other People Or Animals
Theres no evidence that Lyme disease can be transmitted sexually or by touching or kissing a person who has it, says Dr. Kuritzkes. One widely reported study from 2014 found that the bacterium that transmits Lyme disease could be , which sparked fears that the disease could be passed between sexual partners. But theres never been a reported case of sexual transmission, says Dr. Kuritzkes, and most experts dont believe you can catch Lyme disease in this way.
In rare cases, Lyme disease has been transmitted from a pregnant woman to her fetus or placenta. Fortunately, according to the CDC, treating an infected woman with antibiotics seems to protect the fetus from any negative effects. Theres also no evidence that Lyme disease can be passed through breastfeeding.
And while there have been no reports of Lyme disease being transmitted through a blood transfusion, scientists say it could potentially happenso people who are being treated for Lyme disease should not donate blood.
Dogs are less likely to be bitten by deer and western blacklegged ticks, although it does happenso its still important to check your pets after time spent outdoors and to remove any ticks you find. You can also talk to your veterinarian about preventive treatments that can reduce the risk of your pets being bitten by ticks or about a vaccine that can protect dogs from the disease.
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Is There A Blood Test For Lyme Disease
If your doctor suspects that you have Lyme disease, they may order two blood tests. These will look for signs that your body is trying to fight it off. The results are most precise a few weeks after youâve been infected.
These tests are:
ELISA test. This test canât check for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. It can only look for your immune systemâs response to it.
Although itâs the most common way to check for Lyme disease, the ELISA test isnât perfect. It can sometimes give false âpositiveâ results. On the other hand, if you have it done too soon after youâve been infected, your body may not have developed enough antibodies for the test to detect them. This will give you a ânegativeâ result even though you do have Lyme disease.
Western blot test. Whether your ELISA test comes back positive or negative, your doctor will need to do this blood test, too.
A Western blot uses electricity to split certain proteins in your blood into patterns. This is then compared to the pattern of people known to have Lyme disease.
At least five band matches means that you have Lyme disease. Still, not all labs have the same standards. Thereâs a chance that you could get a âpositiveâ result from one and a ânegativeâ result from another.
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The Elisa And Western Blot Are Not Sensitive Enough
Another major limiting factor of the traditional ELISA and Western blot is the quality. These tests tend to use lysed BB cultures, and therefore, depending on the culture conditions, some antigens are over-expressed, and some are under-expressed. This, in turn, can affect the ability to detect antibodies from patients blood.
Whats more, if a patient tests too early after a tick bite, his or her body may not have produced enough antibodies to show up on a test with suboptimal sensitivity.
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Stage : Early Localized Lyme Disease
Stage 1 or early localized Lyme disease occurs 128 days following a tick bite.
Some people with stage one Lyme disease do not experience any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include the following:
- a skin rash that may or may not resemble a bulls-eye
- flu-like illness, including chills and a fever
- swollen lymph nodes
What Do Testing Kits Typically Include
Depending on the method of collection, testing kits may include:
- a device to collect the blood, urine, or saliva sample
- a container to ship the sample back to the lab
- a shipping label
Some kits come with a bandage, wipes, and a biohazard bag. Kits may contain extras such as Styrofoam holders, labels, or tubes with varying solutions inside.
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