The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has been tracking tick movement across the state, and their data shows that ticks are definitely on the move, looking for new areas to live in. For several years, they’ve tracked vector-borne diseases (e.g. diseases transmitted by ticks and mosquitoes to humans), and ticks have been making slow, steady progress across the state. In the 1990s, there were only about 300 reported cases of tick-borne diseases, but that number has exploded to 2000+ cases in the last five years.
Old standbys like Lyme disease are on the rise, but new diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, human ehrlichiosis, and Powassan disease are emerging as well. Most tick-borne disease stem from east-central Minnesota forested areas, but recently MDH has shown deer ticks (blacklegged ticks) expanding to other wooded areas.
Lyme disease is a bacterial, tick-transmitted disease that most commonly affects dogs, but can also affect cats and horses. Many dogs won’t show any clinical signs, but some will develop fever, swollen and painful limbs, or become lethargic, and in extreme cases, a dog can develop neurological issues and kidney failure. Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not develop the rash that is a tell-tale indicator in people.
If you suspect your animal has been bitten by a tick and has Lyme disease, call us and we can do laboratory testing to confirm your suspicions. We have a rapid results SNAP test that can be done in our clinic to assess your pet’s exposure to Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Treatment involves antibiotics and/or antimicrobial therapy, and naturally, prognosis is better the earlier the disease is detected.
As with most diseases, prevention is the best option. In order to transmit Lyme disease, a tick must be attached to your pet for more than 24 hours, so frequent inspection of your pet, and quick proper removal of the tick is key. Grasp the tick around the head and carefully remove it with tweezers, and bring the tick so our veterinarian can identify the species. Be particularly diligent in summer months when ticks are just born and therefore very small and easily overlooked. Tick control is available via annual pet vaccination and there are several products you can apply to repel and even kill ticks. It also helps to become “tick savvy”, especially if you live in or frequent a wooded area. Try to avoid tall grasses and walk on trails when possible to reduce the risk, since ticks commonly next in brush and low vegetation.
Our staff at Normandale Veterinary Hospital strives to provide the best quality medical and surgical care for your pet. We’re located in Edina, and have been serving the surrounding communities of Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Richfield and Saint Louis Park for over 45 years. We offer complete inpatient and outpatient medical care, as well as, a full range of surgical procedures.