Borreliosis is a widespread serious disease that can affect dogs, cats, horses, cattle, birds, wild animals and people. White-tailed deer and white-footed mice appear to be natural carriers. The disease is caused by Borrellia burgdorferi, a corkscrew-shaped bacterium. This organism is usually transmitted by the pinhead-sized, dark brown nymphs (immature form) of deer ticks. Other types of ticks may also occasionally transmit this disease.
After the larva hatches from the tick egg, it attaches to small rodents, such as the white-footed mouse. As it feeds on the mouse’s blood, the larva becomes infected with the Borrelia organism. The larva matures into a nymph, which feeds on the blood of animals and people. The Borrelia organism is not injected into the host animal until the tick has been attached for 10-24 hours. Though adult ticks can also spread the disease, the nymph stage poses the greatest threat during the summer months because of its very small size.
Signs of Lyme disease are vague and resemble various other conditions. Initial signs include a rash, fever, joint swelling, pain and swollen lymph nodes. Within days, weeks or even months, more serious signs can develop, such as heart, brain and joint disorders. Painful joint swelling is the most common advanced sign.
A person is unlikely to contract the disease from a pet unless he/she were to remove an unattached tick from the pet and allow the tick to feed on him/her. However, people are certainly at risk of Lyme disease by having a tick jump on them from the environment that they walk through with their pet
Prevention of Borreliosis
Protect Yourself: For walks in the woods, fields or meadows during the tick season, protect yourself from tick infestation by wearing clothes in a way that prevents ticks from gaining access to your skin. Wear a hat to protect your head.
Close Inspection: Always closely inspect your pet and yourself after walking in the woods, fields or meadows. If you detect any ticks, do not crush the tick’s body during removal. Rather, use tweezers or forceps to grasp the tick’s head as close to your pet’s skin as possible, and gently remove the tick to avoid separation of the tick’s head from it’s body.
Treatment for Lyme disease is most successful in the early stages of the disease. Therefore we recommend regularly screening your dog with a simple blood test at least yearly. If a known tick bite has occurred, the dog should have the blood test done 1 month and 4 months after the bite.