Eek! Ticks! They are the stuff of nightmares.
With eight spindly legs, crunchy exoskeletons, blood sucking mouthparts and ninja-like stealth, ticks dredge up feelings of disgust, revulsion and fear in those who encounter them. And rightly so. While they certainly have their place in our ecosystem, ticks are parasites – parasites that harbor nasty diseases which they can transmit to their hosts. Understanding tick-borne diseases, their prevalence, geographic risk factors and tick prevention is imperative not only for your own health, but also for the health of your pet.
What are the common tick-borne diseases?
The world of tick-borne diseases is complex and scary. Tick-borne diseases are very real, and they are on the rise. Veterinary Week reported a 30 percent increase in the rate of dogs exposed to tick-borne diseases between 2006 and 2010. While the list of tick-borne diseases is extensive, the most common tick-borne diseases we see in our canine patients are Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Hepatozoonosis, Babesiosis, Bartonella and Lyme disease. Infection with one of these diseases occurs after an infected tick attaches to its host and begins a blood meal.
The time until infection varies according to the tick species and the transmitted disease, but infection times range from a couple hours to days or longer. Symptoms of tick-borne diseases are also varied in clinical signs and severity, but include stiffness, swollen joints, fever, kidney disease, loss of appetite, anemia, vomiting, skin lesions, lethargy and other. Some tick diseases can be fatal. (more…)