"Providing a Caring, Lifelong Home

to Senior Rescue Goldens" 

New facts about Tick Borne Disease

Kirby's Story

© 2013 Golden Retriever Senior Rescue Sanctuary and Educational Center, Inc.

A 501(c)3 non-profit Charitable Organization

 

© 2013 Golden Retriever Senior Rescue Sanctuary and Educational Center, Inc.

A 501(c)3 non-profit Charitable Organization

 

 

1) Anaplasmosis is widely recognized as one of the most “user friendly” TBDs because it is easily eradicated with only 14 days of tetracycline treatment. This particular strain of Anaplasma is called Anaplasmosis Platys. What is not widely available information is that several years ago the “powers that be” reclassified several of the TBDs according to what type of blood cells they infect. An extremely deadly strain of Ehrlichia—Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis, or HGE, was reclassified as Anaplasmosis Phagocytophilum at that time. This is the strain of Anaplasmosis that Kirby had. It is a very silent, yet very deadly, killer.

 

2) Most owners screen for TBD once or twice per year using SNAP 4DX tests. These tests react to antibodies in the blood. This indicates that the dog was exposed at some point to the bacteria but it is not proof of an acute active infection. It also does not differentiate between strains of TBD. Because these TBDs have been reclassified, it is extremely important to know which bacterium is causing the infection so that correct treatment can be implemented. There is a new test now that gives much more information and is much more accurate. This test is called the Real PCR Comprehensive Tick Panel. PCR stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction. The test looks for actual bacterial DNA molecules in the blood. This not only indicates an active infection but it also is 100% accurate in detecting which strain. There are also singular PCR tests available that look for only one type of TBD as well. The gold standard lab for tick borne diesease detection is now Galaxy Labs at North Carolina State University Vector Borne Veterinary Disease Center. The researchers there are specially trained in all types of TBDs. IDEXX now also offers a PCR Comprehensive Tick Panel as well. IDEXX is also a very reputable laboratory.

 

3) Another very important piece of information that is also not widely distributed yet in the Veterinary world is that many strains of TBD are now becoming Tetracycline resistant. If a dog is infected and treatment initiated, we must now use a combination of antibiotics to be sure that the bacteria is being eradicated and not just reduced in number for awhile. This is why even after repeated treatment with Doxycycline or Minocycline Kirby kept testing postive for Anaplasmosis. It is because the strain of Anaplasma that Kirby had was partiallyTetracycline resistant and was not responding completely to a single antibiotic. Many of the TBDs now are also transmitted much more quickly than was previously thought. Ticks only need to be attached 6 hours or less to transmit bacteria. There are documented cases of ticks being attached as little as 3 hours and transmitting bactera. Once infection has been confirmed, it is imperitive that treatment start immediately. Several of these TBD have very slim windows –some less than one week—between tick bite and a subclinical stage in which the bacteria then goes deep in the body and hides. There the bacterium launch a silent attach on the immune system of the host. With an impaired immune system there are ususally widely ranging symptoms that pop up and are seemingly unrelated. Each symptom is then treated, but the owner and Veterinarian are oblivious to the underlying cause of why this dog is suddenly having a multitude of issues. Over a period of months and sometimes even a year or longer, the chronic inflammation and decreased immune protection precipitated by the infection causes any number of very serious consequences for the dog. These conditions range from auto immune responses to Lymphoma, Lymphosarcoma, as well as other cancers.

 

4) And lastly, we must be vigilant and comprehensive in protecting ourselves and our dogs from ticks. The tick population is exploding worldwide right now. Tick numbers are being reported at never before seen rates. The ticks are also expanding and moving. The Lone Star Tick which carries deadly Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever used to be confined mainly in a few western states. However, there has now been a confimed case of a Lone Star Tick that transmitted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as far East as Connecticut. Kirby was protected by Frontline and also essential oils. I was very conscientious about checking both my dogs for ticks. Regrettably, I missed one. The tick had crawled up in the front of Kirby’s neck under his collar and I didn’t see it and didn’t think to check there. The tick was engorged by the time I found it and the damage had been done. We started treatment that very day only a few hours later with Doxy to be proactive. Unfortunately, in Kirby’s case, the strain this tick carried was Tetracycline resistant and very, very deadly. We missed the window to eradicate and started an 18 month journey of weird unrelated symptoms that culiminated in losing him to an auto immune attack on his own liver and platelets triggered by the chemicals in a tick collar. We need to urge companies to research and deliver more adequate and safe tick protection. The other thing we can do is reduce the tick populations ourselves.  By saving empty toilet paper rolls and dryer lint (or dog hair from grooming) we can assemble a tool that will interrupt the tick life cycle. Save the dryer lint or dog hair and spray it with Permethrin—an insecticide made from crushed daisies—so not overly horrible. Let it dry. Then take small pieces of the treated material and place it in the middle of the toilet paper roll. Place these rolls around your yard or property in hollows or wherever there is opportunity. TBD is spread mainly by rodents. The rodents will pick up the dryer lint and use it in their nests. This is where the nymph ticks live. The treated dryer lint will kill the tiny ticks and effectively stop their life cycle. The population of ticks will drop almost immediately. Environmentalists need to get involved also doing this in recreational areas. With a concerted effort, ticks soon may not be such as danger as they are currently.

 

If we can save even one life and save a family from experiencing the overwhelmin pain and sorrow that we have felt these past weeks, I know it would make Kirby very happy. He was such a sweet, big hearted, happy boy. He sure did not deserve this fate.