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Man’s best friend offers warning – Lyme Disease Virginia

May 16, 2017

Humans helped by Dogs infected with Lyme disease

The US government reports up to 30,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease each year, scientists estimate this number to be much larger- of at least 10 times that many. Physicians still struggle with many patients who go undiagnosed due to the fact that no true blood test is available for Lyme. Researchers have started considering animals with tick bites, specifically the family dog, since they are often bitten and tested for such health issues.

During routine veterinarian visits, millions of canines are tested for Lyme disease. Specifically tested for the antibodies to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. A recent study finds that these results may help humans predict where the disease will start spreading next. “The dog shows it early,” said Shila K. Nordone, a North Carolina State University immunologist who was among the study authors. “Why? Because they go where the ticks are,” said University of Georgia parasitologist Michael Yabsley, another author of the study, in the journal PLOS ONE. “They’re the ones that are outside, running around through the bushes,” he said.

Lyme Disease Virginia

Increasing numbers in dogs & humans

One example provided by the study included a large number of dogs in North Dakota and West Virginia that tested positive for Lyme and shortly after human cases started appearing in those very same states.
Lyme disease has been very well known in northeastern states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia, but the numbers for positive tests in dogs were far higher.

“Nationally, among the 4,172,861 dogs for which results were available, 268,413 tested positive in 2016, a rate of 6.4 percent. The data, compiled by the nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council, come from a blood test that signals exposure to Lyme and three other disease-causing agents, including heartworm. Most dogs still are tested only for heartworm, but the four-disease panel with Lyme is becoming more common,” said the study authors, who also included mathematical modeler Christopher S. McMahan of Clemson University.

New Study finds “tighter” link

Most dogs that test positive for Lyme do not show symptoms, like limping and in these cases vets do no recommend treatment. However, a positive test is helpful because it serves as a warning to the dog owner. This warning can now serve the canine and the human to take preventive steps to protect against Lyme. 

“In 2011, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in counties with canine Lyme rates above 5 percent, the rate in people also tended to be higher than average (though at less than 1 percent, not nearly as high as that in dogs). What’s more, in some counties where this connection did not at first appear to hold true, it became that way. That is, these counties at first showed high rates of canine Lyme coupled with low rates of human disease, but after three years the human rates started to catch up – supporting the idea that the dogs could have predictive value.”

Nordone said so far the link appears even “tighter” than what the CDC study found in 2011. “The new study, by Nordone, Yabsley, McMahan, and colleagues, described a model that can be used to forecast rates of positive Lyme tests in dogs. Among the factors that helped predict canine Lyme rates were surface water and forests, which are important habitat for deer – another animal that carries Lyme bacteria.”

The main reason that it is important to get an early warning of this disease? Public health officials can start spreading the word so the community can take preventive steps to avoid contracting Lyme. This early education is key in treating Lyme disease and can save families years of misdiagnosis along with pain & suffering associated to these tick bites.

Treatment with Dr. Ridinger - Lyme Disease Virginia

Our Lyme disease treatment focuses on treating the entire body- not just the Lyme infection itself. Since Lyme disease affects most areas of the body, our holistic integrative treatments have a greater chance of helping our patients take back their overall health & well-being.

Have you or someone you know been recently affected by Lyme Disease? Call Carla Bryant at (703) 246-9355 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Ridinger today and visit our website for more information about our Lyme disease Virginia treatment options.

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