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Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is on the rise in dogs and people in Virginia. At our hospital in Ruckersville, 25% of all dogs are currently infected with Lyme disease! About 5-10% of these infected dogs get sick from the infection. Most commonly, sick dogs develop fever and painful, swollen joints. They find it difficult to walk and stop eating. Less commonly, dogs can develop a kidney infection (Lyme Nephritis) or heart muscle infection (myocarditis). These more serious infections are often fatal in spite of treatment. Clinical signs tend to appear 2 to 5 months after infection from a tick bite by the common deer tick (Ixodes scapularis). Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. This organism lives in the gut of the deer tick and it takes 48 hours post-attachment before it can transmit infection to the host. This is an important point because in dogs on appropriate tick control, the tick will be killed before it can transmit the Borrelia organism. Vaccintaion against Lyme disease is also an important component in preventing infection in dogs. The canine Lyme disease vaccine is highly effective at killing the Borrelia organism while it is still in the gut of the tick. Interestingly, dogs that have recovered from a natural infection do not have good immunity against further infections, so vaccination and consistent tick control are the best ways to keep your dog from contracting Lyme disease. In this part of Virginia, dogs are more likely to contract Lyme disease than Rabies, Distemper, Parvo or a number of other infectious canine diseases. Fortunately, Lyme disease is treatable if it is caught early and if the kidneys and heart have not been infected. A rapid response is usually seen in dogs with fever and arthritis when put on the antibiotic, Doxycycline. Therefore, if your dog has a sudden lameness or is listless and not eating well, prompt attention by your veterinarian is important to prevent a death or chronic illness caused by Lyme disease

-Richard Godine, DVM


8301 Seminole Trail, Ruckersville, VA. 22968

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