5 Facts You Need To Know About Lyme Disease.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month so we thought it would be a good time to help educate people on the seriousness of Lyme Disease and how you can prevent it! 

1. Lyme Disease (Lyme borreliosis) is transmitted by tick bites. 

Lyme disease is only transmitted via tick bites. This goes for both humans and pets, which makes Lyme Disease a zoonotic disease. It is also the most commonly reported vector-borne illness or infection transmitted to humans and other animals by blood-feeding anthropods, reported in the United States according to the CDC. 

2. The tick will need to stay attached to your pet for over 24 hours to pass on the disease, according to the CDC

The good news is that even if your pet was bitten by a tick, the tick will need to stay attached to your pet for upwards of 36-48 hours for the bacterium to even pass over to your pet. This gives you a window to check your pet over for freeloaders and remove them before they can cause any harm. 

3. Monthly preventions are able to kill the parasite before any harm can be done. 

We recommend Nexgard for flea and tick prevention. Nexgard is the only FDA-approved prevention that kills one of the more prevalent species of ticks, the black-legged tick. It also kills Lone-Star Ticks, American Ticks, and brown dog ticks. With an added benefit of killing fleas as well, there is no downside to keeping your pet on monthly preventions! 

4. There is a Lyme Vaccine to help prevent Lyme Disease. 

Although not considered part of the CORE vaccines by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine or by us at Georgia Veterinary Associates, it can be beneficial to those pets who live an active, outdoorsy lifestyle or those who frequent 'hot spots' along the northeast. Receiving the Lyme Disease Vaccine can help boost other methods such as prevention to make sure your pet is fully protected against Lyme Disease. We at Georgia Veterinary Associates consider this a Lifestyle Vaccine, and we will recommend it based on your lifestyle and your pets. 

5. Lyme Disease is easily treated with Antibiotics. 

Thankfully, because Lyme Disease is caused by bacteria, it is easily treated with Antibiotics. This doesn't mean that all symptoms will magically vanish, however. In a small number of cases, symptoms can persist for months after the bacteria has left the host. Better to prevent than treat! 

Did You Know? Lyme disease is a reportable disease – which means that health care providers and laboratories that diagnose cases of laboratory-confirmed Lyme disease are required to report those cases to their local or state health departments, which in turn report the cases to the CDC. -AVMA

Symptoms of Lyme Disease. 

Symptoms of Lyme Disease may take a long time to surface after your pet is bitten by a tick. The typical window is about 2-5 months before any obvious signs are visible. 

Typical Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lameness
  • Joint swelling
  • Decreased activity

Lyme Disease is not transmittable from one pet to another or from said pet to a human, but if one family member, human included, tests positive for Lyme Disease, it may be a good indicator that another family member may have the disease. This is because we tend to spend time together, and in the same environments, where Lyme Disease can be found. 

In humans, Lyme Disease is most commonly accompanied by a red "bulls-eye" rash around the bite. As the infection develops, symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain. There are many things you can do to avoid ticks. These include: 

  • Avoid areas where ticks are found
  • Cover arms, legs, head, and feet when outdoors
  • Wear light-colored clothing
  • Use insecticides
  • Checking for ticks once indoors.

Other resources for more Lyme Disease information:

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): Lyme disease: A pet owner's guide

Center for Disease Control (CDC): Lyme Disease

Have more questions about Lyme Disease? Contact us today!