Experts Predict Rise in Lyme Disease Cases

Two years ago we had record floods. Last year, record droughts. This year we had a record low on a Saturday only to have a record high the following Tuesday in our area of Nebraska. Talk about some record mood swings from Mother Nature! The weatherman doesn’t know what to predict. However, with regards to ticks, there is one thing we can predict: they are here, regardless of these topsy-turvy weather patterns. In fact, some parasitologists  predict record high numbers of ticks this spring and summer.

Ticks are known carriers of a number of diseases that can infect both our pets and human family members. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is one such disease that can infect both pets and people. Ehrlichiosis infects dogs and can cause severe life-threatening anemia. Anaplasmosis is another tick-transmitted disease of dogs, along with others. One of the more commonly known tick-borne diseases is Lyme disease. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), predicts that the threat of Lyme disease for dogs and cats is going to be extremely high this year. Parasitologist Dr. Dwight Bowman of Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine agrees with this, and states that Lyme disease continues to spread and be problematic.

Did you know that it typically takes less than 48 hours for a tick to transmit disease once it grabs a blood meal? Not very long! Since signs of tick-borne diseases are difficult to recognize, in both pets and people, simple preventative measures are key. This is a common crucial theme expressed in all parasitology circles. Since ticks are so hardy, (we can even see them with snow on the ground), CAPC recommends year-round parasite control for both dogs and cats. Your veterinarian can help to consult with you about when to utilize prevention based on the area of the country you live in.

While all this might sound daunting, the good news is it has become increasingly easier for you, as pet parents, to provide parasite prevention for our beloved furry friends. There are long-lasting flea and tick collars, monthly oral products and topical products such as SENTRY Fiproguard MAX, which provide a variety of options to protect both you and your pets. Additionally, many of these products also prevent other parasites and the diseases they transmit.  So even the most reluctant pet owner has no excuse not to provide preventative protection.

“We know that ticks are out every month of the year,” notes Dr. Susan Little, professor of parasitology at Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences. “We also know they transmit more diseases than we previously realized.  Tick control protects pets from these infections.”

So, limiting your pet’s exposure to ticks is crucial.  If you wait until you see ticks, it’s too late. If you have stopped for the winter, don’t delay in restarting your tick prevention program.  Wouldn’t it be terrible to have to say, “if only I had prevented this!”

-Photo Credit: From flickr by PrincasPhoto


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