People and pets in Metro Detroit are expected to face a higher-than-normal risk for Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis this month, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC).
CAPC, a nonprofit, is recommending that pet owners talk to their veterinarians about getting their pets year-round protection from tickborne illnesses through annual testing and preventatives.
The nonprofit is expecting a higher-than-normal risk for Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis in Wayne, Washtenaw, Macomb, Oakland and Livingston counties for May 2022. You can view its 30-day pet parasite forecast here.
“Lyme Disease and Ehrlichiosis are serious threats to pets in Michigan that are increasingly vulnerable to these debilitating and potentially fatal illneses,” said Dr. Rick Marrinson, DVM, and CAPC board member. “The new 30-Day Pet Parasite Forecast Maps at PetDiseaseAlerts.org are designed to alert pet owners and veterinarians about vector-borne diseases before they occur.”
Read: Let’s talk about Michigan ticks: 5 you should be familiar with, how to prevent a bite and what to do if you find one
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. It is transmitted to humans and pets through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick.
Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash. If it goes untreated it can spread to the joints, the heart and the nervous system.
Your healthcare provider can diagnose Lyme disease based on your symptoms, physical findings and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Most cases can be treated with a few weeks of antibiotics.
What is Ehrlichiosis?
Ehrlichiosis is the name used to describe diseases caused by the bacteria Ehrlichia chaffeensis, E. ewingii, or E. muris eauclairensis
It is spread to people and animals through the bite of infected ticks including the lone star tick and the blacklegged tick.
According to the CDC, people with ehrlichiosis will often have fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and sometimes upset stomach. Doxycycline is the treatment of choice for adults and children.
Why should pet owners be concerned?
Sometimes when a pet is infected with Lyme disease or Ehrlichiosis, it will not show any symptoms.
When a dog is symptomatic and infected with Lyme disease it may experience fever, depression, loss of appetite, lethargy, joint pain and stiffness. In some cases, if undetected or untreated, Lyme disease can lead to issues such as kidney failure, heart issues and/or neurological issues.
When a dog is symptomatic and infected with Ehrlichiosis it may experience eye issues, lameness and/or bleeding issues and anemia.
People likely cannot catch Lyme disease or Ehrlichiosis directly from an infected dog, but they can catch it from a similar tick. If your dog is infected, then there are infected ticks in the area.
What should pet owners do?
CAPC is urging pet owners to talk to their veterinarian about testing for tick-borne diseases and putting their pets on year-round tick prevention.
Pet owners should check their dogs for ticks after they spend outside. Both Lyme and Ehrlichiosis are treatable with antibiotics if identified early.
A tick preventative can help prevent your pet from getting bit by a tick and from bringing ticks into the home. I you live in an area at high-risk for Lyme disease you can talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating against Lyme.
Read: All 4 Pets coverage
The videos above have been provided by CAPC and Pet Disease Alerts.
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