K9 Corner: Lyme disease is spreading

Published 8:49 am Tuesday, May 30, 2017

BY HELEN PALMER

I have seen three separate news items on ticks this past week and one of those articles specified the state of Kentucky.

The first item mentioned that Lyme disease is spreading and is now documented in both Kentucky and Ohio. The article reminded homeowners not to encourage deer to come to their yards as it is the tiny deer tick that carries the Lyme disease organism.   Lyme disease can be transmitted to both humans and dogs.

Diagnosing a tick borne disease can be tricky. Lyme disease mimics a number of disorders such as degenerative joint disease, trauma and autoimmune disease. If you notice lameness, poor appetite, lethargy or enlarged lymph nodes and you have been in an area where ticks are found, mention that fact when you take your dog to your veterinarian. There are tests for tick borne diseases. 

For humans, there is often a tell-tale mark like a red bull’s-eye where the tick has bitten. See your doctor for appropriate treatment as soon as possible.  

If you find ticks on your property, check with your county extension agent for approved methods for eradicating them.

 The second news item was on the internet. It was a story of a three-year-old child who suddenly became paralyzed and could not stand or walk. The doctor mentioned that he had seen about six other cases like this in his practice and they all involved ticks. A thorough examination of the child revealed a tick embedded in her hair. Once the tick was removed, the child recovered in a matter of hours. Tick paralysis is not an infectious disease; it is caused by a neurotoxin in the bug’s salivary glands.

The third article was in the latest issue of “Pain-Free Living” magazine. Robert S. Dinsmoor wrote about “Taking a Hike for your Health” and had a sidebar about protecting yourself from Lyme disease.  Dinsmoor mentions additional symptoms for humans such as fever, headache, muscle or joint pain and fatigue. According to Dinsmoor, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “has declared that mice are important carriers of Lyme disease and the mouse population has soared recently. The CDC expects a particularly bad year for Lyme disease.”

One thing I learned from these articles is that ticks are unable to survive in dry heat and the first article recommended that if you have been walking in an area with long grass or bushy shrubs that you place all your clothes in the drier for one-half to one hour and let the dry heat kill any bugs that might be clinging to the fabric. Use the hottest temperature the fabric will allow.

If you find even one tick on your body or on your pet’s body and either of you develop symptoms as listed above, see the doctor or veterinarian is soon as possible. Lyme disease is treatable if caught in the early stages. “If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause more serious problems, affecting the joints, heart and nervous system,” according to Dinsmoor.