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Fighting Lyme Disease in Pets and People

Reviewed by Dr. Alexis Seguin, DVM, MS, DACVIM on Thursday, September 3, 2015
Posted October 21, 2014 in A Vet's Life

[Lyme disease is not the only concern when it comes to ticks, and ticks are a year round problem even in cold climates! Click here to learn more about cold weather ticks.]

What started out as a peaceful protest outside of a radio station in Chicago, turned out to be a groundbreaking cooperative effort between the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics to help bring more attention to Lyme disease. How did that happen?

Back in the fall of 2013, Steve Dale, a great friend of our profession, was hosting his WGN radio show, Steve Dale’s Pet World, and noticed, along with Bill Moller, another WGN broadcast host, a group of people gathering outside of the studio with signs protesting “something.”Dog and person high-fiving Steve walked outside and began a dialogue with the protestors, discovering that they were outside with posters to try to create more awareness about Lyme disease in people. Well aware of the problems that we face with regards to Lyme disease and our pets, Steve invited a few of them inside the studio to discuss Lyme disease.

It was clear to Steve that the veterinary community seems to be more proactive about educating pet parents about Lyme and tick prevention than the medical community. He did learn that Lyme disease is responsible, either directly or indirectly, for many deaths in people annually. Often, because of the indirect relationship, and damage to some key organs like the heart, liver, or kidneys, many of these deaths are attributed to other causes. In fact, according to these protestors, the CDC says that they probably have 10 times more Lyme disease cases on an annual basis than they originally thought!

Tick diseases are prevalent in people as well

Lyme is on the rise—even in our cities—as tick populations are spreading.  As many “city dwellers” like to take their dogs to parks, on vacation to mountain areas and into wooded areas, they have been (over the years) bringing ticks back with them to their “city” homes. Those ticks have been thriving. Clearly, a frightening thought!

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Jeff has more than 30 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a licensed veterinarian as well as a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.

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The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the beliefs, policies or positions of all veterinarians, Pet Health Network, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. or its affiliates and partner companies.