As a family we have become involved with Lyme disease. This is a tick borne disease which can be passed to the victim/patient by a tick that bites and attaches itself to its host. My young grandson is currently being treated for Lyme disease and may have to be on medication for a long time ahead. It is a terrible disease which can have many life changing effects if not caught early, as in many cases the patient may not be aware they have had a tick bite. We were aware that he had a tick attach to him when he was just a year old, and he is now nearly 7 years old. At the time we had no knowledge of the possible effects of a tick bite. Not all ticks carry the bacteria which cause the infections, but it is important to be aware of the potential risks. Lyme disease is now being diagnosed and recorded in many areas and contrary to expectations these cases are not necessarily in rural areas.
Dogs as well as humans can contract Lyme disease which seems to cause arthritis and aggression in dogs. However, there is one very sensible precaution that all dog owners should be strongly encouraged to take and that is to make sure that their dogs (and/or cats) are protected by tick/flea prevention products. There are many effective ones on the market, though personally I prefer to take advice from my own Vet who can supply the treatment most effective for my dogs. For example, owners who travel abroad with their dogs, he would be most likely to advise a specific brand which could cover other parasites/insects. As far as anyone knows Lyme disease is not infectious as in cases of ‘flu or measles etc. but the risk is that if a pet does pick up a tick from anywhere and it falls from its coat in the home or garden etc. or even worse, it breeds and larvae then finds another host, possibly human, who then becomes a victim of Lyme disease.
If the dog or cat has had prevention treatment regularly even if the tick does attach, the treatment should kill the tick before any further damage can be done. If a tick is found on a dog, it is advisable to remove it with a tick remover, which can be obtained from Lyme Disease Action http://www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk/ and most Veterinary practices.
Therefore my message to anyone with pets is to maintain a regular preventative treatment and check their animals on a daily basis, where possible, for any of these unwelcome visitors and take appropriate action to remove.
Lyme disease can be a devastating disease if not caught early and treated appropriately. By seeing that a regular preventative treatment is maintained it can help to reduce the risk of other families going through what we have done and continue to do.
For more information contact Lyme Disease Action on www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk.
This is not meant to be a scaremongering article but having experienced the damage that Lyme disease can cause, we are determined to try to raise awareness not only with the general public but through the medical profession, GP’s and also Government Ministers.