“Lyme disease is a pervasive and pernicious public health disaster that is aggressively spreading… The disease has reached epidemic proportions…”
Senator Richard Blumenthal
Disease associated with deer ticks
Disease associated with dog ticks.
Can my cat get Lyme disease?
Should I protect my cat against ticks?
Best tick repellents for humans
Best tick repellents for dogs
How to remove a tick and tick removal tool
Testing for tick-borne disease in dogs: the ‘4dx’ test
Signs of Lyme disease in dogs
Information on the Lyme vaccine for dogs
Forecast for Tick-borne Infection In Connecticut Is Highest In Country
Connecticut ranks with Pennsylvania and New York as having the highest number of reported tick-borne infections. A record number of ticks, dogs, and humans all tested positive for diseases like Lyme, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Powassan virus, and erilichiosis. According to the Connecticut Agricultural Station, a leading national research center for tick-borne disease, 32% of ticks submitted for testing were positive for Lyme with 8% of that group testing positive with concurrent disease vectors like Anaplasma and Babesia.
Brookfield and Surrounding Cities All Test High for Tick-Associated Pathogens
The Connecticut Agricultural Station has seen the number of ticks submitted for testing double since 2012, the same year that positive cases increased from 20 to 30%, a level at which they have remained through the end of 2017. Here is the breakdown of tick-associated pathogens by town.
Percent total of the samples submitted for testing that were positive for a tick-related disease.
Deer and Dog Tick Are Most Prevalent
The majority of ticks tested by the Agricultural Station are deer and dog ticks. Despite their names, humans and dogs are bitten and can be infected by both. The following is a short list of diseases that can be transmitted by ticks. Hyperlinks will take you to the Connecticut Department of Health or the Center for Disease Control where you can learn more information.
Deer Tick (Black Legged Tick)-Associated Diseases
Lyme: Bacterial infection often leading to fever and joint pain in both dogs and people. Left untreated, both species can suffer fatal kidney complications. Dogs may show no signs of illness, so annual testing is required. More on Lyme below.
Babesiosis: Often affects immune compromised people and the elderly. Not so much a concern in dogs.
Anaplasmosis: There were 286 human cases last year in Connecticut. Symptoms vary greatly depending on the individual with some people experiencing no symptoms at all. The disease can be fatal in humans if untreated. In dogs, the illness presents with many of the same signs as Lyme disease. It is not uncommon for dogs to be ill with both Lyme and anaplasmosis at the same time. More on canine anaplasmosis here.
Powassan virus Infection: So far, this disease has only been detected in humans. Unlike the other diseases listed, which usually require 24 hours of tick attachment time, Powassan virus can be acquired in as little as 15 minutes of the tick attaching. 50% of all cases are fatal. Of those that survive, many are left with permanent nerve damage.
American Dog Tick-Associated Diseases
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Not seen often, but cases in both humans and dogs in our area are on the rise as the Northeast warms and more ticks migrate north.
Tularemia: A bacterial infection often associated with rabbits, but transmitted by the bite of a dog tick. There is no formal tracking of this disease in Connecticut.
Erlichiosis: Potentially fatal if left untreated, this disease, like so many of the ones mentioned has a variety of symptoms associated with it, but can just as well present with no symptoms at all. While people can get the disease, it is much more common in dogs.
Can Cats Get Lyme Disease?
We do not believe that cats get Lyme disease or the other tick-associated diseases listed above except Tuleremia. A disease not listed, Cytauxzoonosis, can be acquired by cats that are bitten by ticks, but cases are infrequent.
Should My Cat Be Protected Against Ticks?
Yes! Outdoor cats can transport ticks into your home. Because cats are such fastidious groomers, they are likely to dislodge any tick from their body leaving it to roam your house in search of another host (you or your dog!) The protection that we recommend, Revolution, described in more detail below, is a topical that should be used for all cats, indoor or outdoor.
Tick-borne Disease Transmission Spikes in June and July
The majority of tick-borne diseases are transmitted by the nymph stage of the tick. The population of these ‘baby’ ticks spikes in June and July, but it’s important to remember that nymphs and adults are active in our area minimally from April through November and on all warm days in between. Year-round protection for both humans and all outdoor companion animals is strongly advised by the Connecticut Department of Health and the Companion Animal Parasite Council.
Repel Ticks From Humans With DEET, but DO NOT Use On Pets
Known as the ‘most effective pesticide in history’, made-for-human tick and mosquito repellents that contain DEET have been shown to be the most effective at keeping ticks off, but DEET is toxic if ingested. Do NOT put products containing DEET on pets. If you apply DEET to a cat or dog, the pet will lick it off and become very sick, neurologically impaired, and/or die. There is significant evidence that DEET in concentrations higher than 30% is toxic to children and parents should never apply products containing DEET to babies. When searching for a tick repellent for adults, you can safely choose one that contains a higher amount of DEET for longer lasting (10 hours) of protection. Products that are safe for children (ones that contain no more than 30%) are just as effective at repelling ticks, but typically do not last as long and must be reapplied after 5 hours. In all cases, follow the application instructions on the product’s label. Since ticks are most often found in the grass, make sure you apply repellent to your shoes, socks, pants and legs. You should shower after spending time outside in tick areas and check yourself for ticks. Ticks have been known to gravitate towards areas of the groin, armpits, neck, head and belt line so look these areas over carefully. Use the amazing Insect Repellent Locator Tool to search for repellents by name and to find out about the level of protection that they provide.
Pets That Live Indoors Must Wear Protection
Pets can transport ticks into your home where they can infect the human members of your household. In fact, the recent Powassan virus infection of a 5-year old Connecticut boy was caused when the father of the household unknowingly carried a tick inside the home on his clothing. Both cats and dogs should be protected with a veterinary-approved tick insecticide. For dogs, we recommend Simparica, a flavorful chew that also prevents flea infestations, and for cats, we recommend a topical product called Revolution that protects against ticks, fleas, common intestinal parasites, heartworms, and mites. There are manufacturer rebates available for each product through the links above or when you purchase the products at Brookfield.
How To Remove a Tick
Tick Testing and the 4DX
Dogs should be tested annually for Lyme, Anaplasma, and Erlichia, the most common of the tick-borne diseases. The test that we use, available only through a veterinarian, is called a 4dx, and references the 4 diagnostic (dx) tests for these diseases: heartworm, Lyme, erlichiosis, and anaplasmosis. Only a few drops of the patient’s blood are required for testing. At Brookfield, around 16% of all patients test positive for Lyme and anaplasmosis while around 2% test positive for erlichiosis. Of the three, Lyme tends to be more serious. Dogs sometimes do not show signs of infection until the disease is well advanced at which point it may be more challenging to treat and gone on to cause serious, if not fatal, renal complications.
Signs That My Dog Has Lyme
Your dog may or may not exhibit the following signs of tick-borne disease, including Lyme. Annual testing, vaccination against Lyme disease, and year-round tick protection is the best way to ensure your pet’s safety.
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Low energy
- Increased urination
Brookfield uses one of the most effective Lyme vaccines on the market, the Vanguard Lyme Vaccine. It has been shown to provide 15 month protection against a broad range of the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Puppies should get the vaccine at 8 week or older. Any dog that has never had the vaccine requires two doses spaced three weeks apart. After that, the vaccine should be boosted yearly.