Lyme disease

WHAT IS?

– a bacterial disease spread by ticks
– usually involves a skin rash and joint pain (arthritis)
– occurs worldwide and throughout the U.S.
– the highest number of cases are in the upper-Midwest

WHAT ANIMALS CAN GET LYME DISEASE?

– dogs, horses, sometimes cattle
– white-tailed deer, mice, chipmunks, gray squirrels, opossums, and raccoons can also be infected

HOW CAN MY ANIMAL GET INFECTED?

– Lyme disease is a vector disease which means it is spread through the bite of an infected tick
– wild mammals (especially small rodents and deer) can carry the bacteria in nature
– ticks get infected by feeding on infected wildlife (bloodmeal)
– infected ticks can spread the bacteria to other animals (pets) and humans

HOW DOES THE DISEASE AFFECT THE ANIMAL?

– wild mammals usually show no signs of illness
– in dogs, signs of disease can take up to 2 to 5 months to appear
– lameness and joint pain (arthritis) may be seen
– knees and elbows are most affected
– lameness may shift from leg to leg or occur “off and on” (intermittent)
– dogs may also have a fever
– the disease usually resolves on its own/some cases may last long-term
– rarely, the bacteria may affect the kidneys or heart, which may result in death
– in cattle and horses, signs of disease are rarely seen but involve lameness or stiffness

CAN I BE INFECTED?

– yes, through a bite of an infected tick
– the tick must be attached at least 24h to transmit the bacteria
– immature ticks are the primary source of transmission of Lyme disease in humans because they are generally smaller and thus harder to see
– in humans, disease vary from no illness to severe disease
– symptoms start 1 to 2 weeks after infection, a small red bump may develop at the bite site which can then spread into a large circular “bulls-eye” type rash
– not all people get the rash
– other symptoms may include fever, body aches, stiff neck and headache
– the second stage of the disease occurs weeks to months later and involves pain in one or more joints, most common is the knee
– pain will occur off and on and the joint may be swollen. This can continue for years.
– in rare cases, the bacteria may spread to the brain or heart

WHO TO CONTACT IF I SUSPECT LYME DISEASE?

– for your animal – contact your veterinarian
– for humans – contact a physician

HOW TO PROTECT MY ANIMAL FROM LYME DISEASE?

– tick prevention medications!
– keep your pet out of wooded areas and away from wildlife
– do regular tick checks and remove any ticks if found (wear gloves)
– for dogs living in high-risk areas, there is a vaccine available

HOW TO PROTECT MYSELF FROM LYME DISEASE?

– avoid tick prone areas (wooded areas, leaf litter, high brush)
– if tick prone areas are unavoidable then wear long sleeves, long pants, closed toed shoes
– always wear gloves when touching and removing ticks. Always wash your hands afterward.