Local Dogs Test Positive for Lyme Disease; Humans At Risk Too
Morrow County veterinarian Martha Mooney, DVM, reported that three dogs have tested positive for Lyme disease. Dr. Mooney questioned the pet owners and found the dogs had not travelled outside of Morrow County, suggesting that ticks carrying Lyme disease have arrived in Morrow County. The deer tick, one of two varieties of ticks found in Morrow County, is the one that carries the bacteria for Lyme disease, an illness that makes dogs and people sick if left untreated. Ticks thrive in wooded areas. Hiking or hunting in areas where there are a lot of trees, bushes or tall grasses working in fields or jumping in a pile of leaves can create an opportunity for ticks to bite pets and people and become embedded in fur or skin.
Winter weather may be on the horizon, but that doesn’t mean that you or your pets are safe from disease-carrying ticks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fall is when adult ticks are most active, so it’s important to stay vigilant. To prevent Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases, CDC recommends that people: Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter and walk in the center of trails when hiking. Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours. Parents should apply repellent to children; the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends products with up to 30 percent DEET for kids. Always follow product instructions! Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find crawling ticks before they bite you. Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon returning from tick-infested areas. Pay particular attention to creases where ticks like to burrow – underarms, behind knees, the folds of the ears, etc. Typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a large, expanding skin rash that may have a bull’s-eye appearance. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Anyone who develops a fever or a rash after being bitten by a tick or spending time in tick-infested areas should seek prompt medical care. Most patients with Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics, especially if treated early. Some signs your dog might be infected are a loss of appetite, general lack of energy (lameness) and shifting legs — the dog changes weight from one leg to another. The bottom line is, if you develop flu-like symptoms, with or without a rash, after being in conditions favorable to ticks, contact your healthcare provider or seek medical attention, says Stephanie Shaver, Public Health Nurse with the Morrow County Health Department. “Even if you never see a tick, but you’re feeling sick, have the bull’s-eye rash and have been in wooded areas, it’s important that you contact you doctor immediately,” Shaver added. In Ohio, more than 200 cases of Lyme disease were reported in 2011. So far in 2012, more than 330 cases have been reported – five of which have been from Morrow County. For more information on Lyme disease, contact the Morrow County Health Department at (419) 947– 1545 or visit us on the web at www.MorrowCountyHealth.org. We are “Your Partner in Prevention and Preparedness.”
What is Lyme Disease? Lyme disease is caused by a kind of bacterium that is transmitted by a tick called the black-legged tick (formerly called the deer tick). Lyme disease can cause symptoms affecting the skin, nervous system, heart, and/or joints. The Ohio Department of Health is aware of cases occurring in the state since surveillance for Lyme disease began in 1980. Who gets Lyme Disease? Males and females of all ages can get Lyme disease. People who spend time outdoors in tick-infested environments are at an increased risk of exposure. Most cases have reported an exposure to ticks or woodland/brush habitats during the months of May through August, but cases have been reported in every month of the year. How soon do symptoms occur? The early symptoms usually occur 3 to 32 days after the tick bite. The most telling symptom is a bite that resembles a bull’s-eye. How should a tick be removed? To remove an attached tick, grasp it with tweezers as close as possible to the skin and pull with firm, steady pressure straight out. Do not twist or jerk the tick, as the mouthparts might break off. If tweezers are not available, protect fingers with rubber gloves or tissue paper. Do not handle ticks with bare hands. Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick as it may contain infected fluids. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands. See or call your doctor if there is a concern about incomplete tick removal. Source: The Ohio Department of Health