Saturday, June 27, 2015

10 Essential Facts About Lyme Disease

10 Essential Facts About Lyme Disease

Ticks are most active from April to September, which means now is prime time for infection.

M Phillips David/Getty Images

You can’t get Lyme disease from contact with another person, only from a tick bite.

Every year, U.S. state health departments report about 30,000 cases of Lyme disease to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But theCDC says the true number of cases in the United States could be ten times as high.
Lyme disease is transmitted to humans from tick bites. The ticks that transmit the disease are most active from April to September, which means spring and summer are the prime times for infection. With the right steps, and regular tick checks, however, you can prevent Lyme disease.
Here are 10 things you should know about this tickborne disease:
1. You can only get Lyme disease from a tick bite.
There is no evidence that Lyme disease can be transmitted from person-to-person, according to the CDC. You also can’t get Lyme disease from your dog, but your furry friend can bring ticks into your home or yard, so check your pet for ticks before letting him in the house.
2. Not all ticks carry Lyme disease.
Blacklegged ticks are the ones you need to avoid. Also known as deer ticks, these parasites spread the disease in northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central states, while western blacklegged ticks transmit infection on the Pacific Coast. According to CDC data, in 2013, 95 percent of Lyme disease cases occurred in 14 states, most of which were on the East Coast.
3. You can probably remove the tick by yourself if you notice it in time. 
To remove a tick before it’s too late, you can purchase a tick removal device, but a pair of fine-tipped tweezers will do the trick. The CDC recommends that you avoid “folklore remedies,” such as painting the tick with nail polish or using heat to detach it. The goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible after you notice it.
4. In most cases, it takes 36 to 48 hours for an infected tick to transmit Lyme disease after it attaches itself to you.
Nymphs, which are immature ticks that measure less than 2 mm in size, are theprimary transmitters of Lyme disease. Because they’re so small, nymphs can go unnoticed in difficult-to-see areas such as the scalp, armpits, and groin. Adult ticks can also transmit the disease, but because they’re bigger, many are noticed and removed before they can transmit the infection.
5. There used to be a Lyme disease vaccine, but it was discontinued in 2002.
The vaccine manufacturer said demand was insufficient, so production stopped. Because the protection given by the vaccine lessens over time, even people who received the vaccine in 2002 are no longer immune to Lyme disease.
6. The most common symptom of Lyme disease is a bullseye rash.
In 70 percent to 80 percent of infected people, the bullseye rash, also known by its technical name, erythema migrans, will appear 3 to 30 days after becoming infected. The CDC says the average time for the rash to show up is a week. As the rash spreads, parts of it might clear up, which is how the bullseye becomes evident.
But, says Phillip J. Baker, executive director of the American Lyme Disease Foundation, not all patients notice the rash, and a significant percentage will not develop a “textbook case” of the rash at all. He says other symptoms can be described as “flu-like,” and include fatigue, headache, joint swelling, and dizziness, to name a few.
7. Lyme disease is officially diagnosed with a blood test.
If done in the early stages of infection, however, most tests will come out negative. Baker says it usually takes four to five weeks for antibodies that fight Lyme disease to appear in the bloodstream, which means that anyone tested sooner may not get will not receive an accurate diagnosis.
8. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics.
Marina Makous, MD, a postdoctoral research fellow at Columbia University’s Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center, said antibiotics are effective for most cases of early Lyme disease if started in time, and the earlier the better. “It’s best if they’re started within the first two weeks,” Dr. Makous says. “But that can be difficult because tests won’t pick up on Lyme disease that early.”
9. There is controversy surrounding Lyme disease.
The CDC’s criteria for Lyme disease was established to make it easy for state departments to report cases back to the agency, Makous said. But she says it is too narrow, and doesn’t include an accurate representation of “post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome,” which the CDC says affects 10 to 20 percent of Lyme disease patients. Symptoms of post-treatment Lyme disease include extended fatigue, pain, and joint and muscle aches, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). “It can be hard to make a correct diagnosis because the symptoms are too similar to other diseases,” Baker says. However, “if people continue to have symptoms, they should persist and not give up,” says Makous, who is opening her own clinic in Exton, Pennsylvania, specifically to treat post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.
10. You can take precautions to prevent Lyme disease.
If you’re going outdoors in a shady grassland or densely wooded area, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease recommends wearing light-colored long-sleeved pants and shirts to make ticks easier to spot. Spray clothing with permethrin repellent, and spray DEET directly on your skin. Once inside, you should check for ticks in hairy areas of your body, and be sure to wash all clothing.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summertime Dangers for Pets

Watch your pets for summertime dangers

Dr. Laura Kiehnbaum

Warm weather is here, and with it comes the season for cabin time, weekends at the lake and summer vacations.
As pet owners, many of us want to experience all that summer has to offer with our animals. After all, they’re part of our families. But a few basic tips, as well as the constant need to think ahead — just as we would when vacationing with children or other family travelers — can make the difference between an outing of summer fun and a more difficult vacation experience. Here are some suggestions for successfully enjoying all that summer has to offer with our pets.
Fleas and ticks: When in the woods — or really anywhere in our region — keep your pet protected against fleas and ticks that can carry illnesses such as Lyme disease by using flea and tick preventatives or repellents during the summer. Products include collars, which can be left on for several months, as well as monthly topical treatments and oral chews.
On and around water: If your dog isn’t a swimmer, and even if he or she is, consider using a doggie personal floatation device, or life jacket. These are available at most pet stores, as well as at outdoor and general retailers. In addition to supporting your pet in the water should he or she fall overboard, pet life jackets provide an added layer of insulation against cold water and even cold air, and most dogs don’t seem to mind them. Many of these devices also have a handle on the back to easily lift your dog back into the boat or onto the dock.
Other water dangers: Lake, pond and river water can contain parasites such as Giardia and blue-green algae, which is a photosynthetic bacteria. If dogs ingest parasites such as Giardia, they can experience digestive ailments, usually first noticeable in loose stools. Blue-green algae contain toxins that can affect the liver and the neurological system. Toxins can enter the dog either from drinking water containing blue-green algae or from licking fur and skin following a swim in contaminated water.
To avoid waterborne parasites and toxins, keep your pet out of water that looks stagnant or discolored, and rinse your animal with clean water if you have any question about whether it has come in contact with contaminated water.
Watch the sun and heat: Sun and heat affect dogs and cats just as they affect people. Prolonged exposure to heat and high humidity can cause heat exhaustion, also called heat stroke. Long-haired, older and short-faced dog breeds such as pugs, as well as obese animals, are more likely to be affected by heat. Long periods of exercise also can pose a risk for heat exhaustion.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include panting, drooling, rapid heart rate, vomiting and diarrhea, muscle tremors or seizures, dehydration and sudden lethargy. Heat exhaustion is an emergency. If you suspect this problem, seek veterinary treatment immediately.
The best way to prevent heat-related problems is to make sure your dog or cat has plenty of water and access to shade when it’s warm and humid, even on days when he or she is simply spending time in the back yard. Also remember to never leave your pet in a hot car. And consider dabbing a bit of sunscreen on the ears and snout of your dog if he or she is going along on a sunny outing. Dogs’ skin, especially in more exposed areas not fully covered by fur, can burn just like ours.
Cabin concerns: Do you use mouse or rat bait? Do your neighbors? It’s easy to forget about these products when you visit the cabin every few weeks. Mouse and rat bait causes internal bleeding, kidney failure or neurological problems. If you know or even suspect that you’re your pet has ingested mouse or rat bait, seek veterinary care for your animal as soon as possible.
Boarding during vacations: Most dog kennels require updated vaccinations for rabies and Bordetella, more commonly known as kennel cough. Talk to your boarding facility for requirements before heading out of town. Your vet usually can provide quick vaccinations if your pet is not up to date.
Summer is a fun time, and those of us with pets need to factor our animals into our travel plans, whether they are going along or staying behind in the care of others. The best advice is to think ahead about the needs of your pet, just as you would any other family member, and then take precautions to ensure the travel experience is enjoyable for everyone.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Animal Young and Parents

Demonstrating my sensitive, schmaltzy, and creative side. A collection of wonderful photos I received in an email (thanks, Chuck) that I put to a slide show with a very appropriate song. I hope you enjoy this show.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Temporarily avoiding the dog park could save your puppy's life


Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
If you're planning a trip to the dog park or a walk around a crowded park with your new puppy, you might want to wait a few weeks. A Kansas State University veterinarian says taking your puppy out before it has been fully vaccinated for parvovirus could be deadly, especially at this time of year.

"Parvovirus—parvo—is a highly  that is something we do see year-round because it is always in the environment, but the Veterinary Health Center has been seeing more cases recently," said Susan Nelson, clinical associate professor of clinical sciences.
The increased number of cases is because the weather is nicer, which is a better environment for the virus to survive, and owners are taking advantage of the warmer temperatures to take their pets outside and interact with other . But owners may not realize their puppy is at risk of getting parvo until they are fully vaccinated, according to Nelson.
"We usually see cases in young dogs, primarily puppies, that have had one  as a puppy but didn't complete the series or had no vaccines at all," Nelson said. "This is definitely a preventable disease, so it's important when you have puppies to get them into your veterinarian starting around 6 to 8 weeks of age for their first vaccine of what is commonly known as their 'puppy series.' Then they will need to get that vaccine every three to four weeks and receive their last booster around 14 to 16 weeks of age for the best chance of avoiding parvo and other diseases included in this vaccine series. They aren't considered fully protected until a few weeks after that final dose at 14 to 16 weeks of age."
Nelson says the number of shots may concern pet owners, but the protection is vital. A mother gives immunity to her pups through her milk. As long as this immunity is around, it will keep the puppy from responding to a vaccine. While the mother's protection is good for the puppy, at some point it goes away. If it has already rendered a vaccine ineffective, it leaves the puppy at risk for infection until the next round of boosters. For some pups, mom's immunity disappears as early as 6 weeks of age, while for others, around 14 to 16 weeks of age. To protect as many puppies as possible, vaccines are started around 6 to 8 weeks of age and ended around 14 to 16 weeks.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tips for Adopting a Cat

Meow! Tips for adopting a cat

June is Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, and for good reason. Cats and kittens fill up animal shelters this time of year because of rampant springtime breeding. If you’re looking for a feline friend, it’s a great time to make that love connection; there’s a huge selection of felines, and your adoption will free up shelter space for even more cats and kittens still in need of good homes.
Technology makes finding a feline friend super easy these days. Visit any animal shelter online and view photos and information on their available pets. Most groups also upload their animals, giving you the chance to look at the available cats and kitties from area shelters and rescue groups at the same time.
When you visit an animal shelter this time of year, you’re going to be tempted by lots of wide-eyed kittens. But remember, there are always adult cats in need of good homes, too. Cats can live 14 years and up (several of my cats have made it to 20), so this is a considerable commitment, especially when you adopt a cat as a kitten.
No two feline personalities are alike, so spend at least 30 minutes on the floor in a meet-and-greet room before deciding if a cat is the right fit for your family. Watch how they interact with you and the family.
I remember a young adult cat named Misty Gris that I always wished I had adopted from the San Antonio Humane Society. She could be brought into a room full of kids and had no problem with them approaching her. She was adopted into a home with two children and I am sure they lived happily ever after. She was an amazingly friendly cat.
What this means is, cats and kids do mix, but it depends on the cats and the kids. Social, outgoing cats will approach and give you head butts and purrs. Shy cats might retreat to a corner of the meet-and-greet room and simply watch you for 30 minutes.
It may not be fair to adopt a shy cat in a home with children younger than 7, and definitely questionable in a home with high-energy kids. Oftentimes, cats are so stressed in these households, they become biters and forever-hiders. So know your kids and find a cat who will fit into your family’s unique mix. Trust me, older cats bond with their new families, and just for fun, you can make up a story about their early life that will become a part of your family’s feline folklore.
If you’re not adopting, you can still help a shelter cat by fostering, volunteering or donating to your favorite animal charity.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Ticks are Predicted to Be a Menace in 2015!

CAPC predicts ticks to be a menace in 2015

Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and other tick-borne diseases continue to spread; year-round parasite control urged for pets.
Apr 30, 2015
By staff
Many tick species like to hang out in areas with long grass and quest for their next blood meal.The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), a group that focuses on parasite research and education for veterinarians and pet owners, has released its annual parasite forecasts. These forecasts measure multiple data points to calculate the probability of four important parasite-transmitted diseases: Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and heartworm. The forecasts show the threat of vector-borne diseases transmitted by ticks continues to be a year-round menace to both pets and pet owners.
The annual CAPC parasite forecasts are based on a model similar to the one meteorologists use to predict U.S. hurricanes. This model predicts activity based on factors such as temperature, precipitation and population density.
Dr. Susan Little“One common pet owner misperception is that parasites are only active during warm weather,” says CAPC President Susan Little, DVM, PhD, a parasitologist at Oklahoma State University, in a CAPC release. “But different tick species are active at different times of the year, including in the cooler months. For example, adult black-legged or deer ticks, which transmit the agent of Lyme disease and other infections, are actually most active during the fall and winter months. When this longer activity is considered together with the increased geographic distribution, parasites, particularly ticks, are a year-round concern.”
Because spring is traditionally thought of as the start of flea and tick season by pet owners, CAPC is encouraging veterinary practitioners to reach out to their clients now to discuss the importance of parasite control for their pets.
For 2015, CAPC predicts the following risk areas for parasite-related diseases:
> Lyme disease is a high threat again this year in the New England and Mid-Atlantic states and continues to spread westward with a higher-than-average risk forecast for the Upper Ohio Valley area and the Pacific Northwest.
> Ehrlichiosis, another potentially fatal disease of dogs most common in the South, also appears to be a threat as far north as New England, as well as in far-reaching areas such as California and the Southern Plains states.
> Anaplasmosis is poised to be highly active in the Great Lakes states, and New England could have an especially challenging year.
> Heartworm disease, a potentially fatal disease transmitted by mosquitoes, remains a consistent threat to the health of dogs and cats in the warmer Sunbelt states. The forecast also predicts a higher-than-normal threat of heartworm infection in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
In addition to these forecasts, CAPC offers parasite prevalence data that localizes reported parasitic disease activity to the county level. In recently conducted research, CAPC found that pet owners want to know about parasite risks immediately. A 2014 study by CAPC and Bayer polled 2,000 pet owners and found that 90 percent want to be notified of a high incidence of parasites in their area; two-thirds want to know this information immediately from their veterinarian. In addition, 89 percent of pet owners said they were likely to make an appointment to get their pets tested based on the risk.
There are more than 175 million pet dogs and cats in the United States. However, only 60 percent of dogs are protected for parasite-transmitted diseases like Lyme borreliosis and heartworm disease, CAPC says. For cats, it’s fewer than four in 10. In many cases, pets serve as sentinels for tick-borne disease in humans.
“It is imperative that practitioners and pet owners work together and take the necessary preventive measures that not only safeguard the health of dogs and cats, but also can protect the whole family,” Little says.
CAPC offers educational tools and information for both veterinarians and pet owners on its two websites:, a veterinary-focused site, for consumers. The CAPC App can be found in the iTunes App Store.

Tips for When You Bring Your Pet to Work

June 26th is Bring Your Pet to Work Day. Here are some tips that will help you if you decide to bring your pet to work.

Petiquette: Is your pet ready for the workplace?

By Maureen Blaney Flietner
Sure, your pet scratches your furniture or chews up paper at home. But when you bring him to work, he must be on his best behavior.
With more employers allowing pets in the workplace and others permitting Take Your Dog to Work Day®(this year it’s Friday, June 26), it’s a good time to learn about petiquette, or pet etiquette—the proper way for your pet to go public.
Here, a few tips to keep in mind.
Does your pet have the right demeanor?
If your pet is aggressive or overly shy, it’s best to leave her home, says Beth Stultz, marketing and communications manager for Pet Sitters International and Take Your Dog to Work Day spokesperson.
Consider how your pet has behaved in the past around strangers before making the decision to bring her, she says. If your pet has shown fear, irritability, or aggression, or if she’s never met strangers, the workplace is not the best place to test her.
Do you have insurance coverage?
Ultimately, you are responsible for your pet and any damage he causes, says Rachelle Hill, an employment law attorney with the Arlington, Va., law firm of Bean, Kinney, and Korman. Hill has written about pets at work from the employer’s perspective for the firm’s employment law newsletter.
“If you decide your pet would do well at the office, then you need to make sure that you have insurance to cover any damage the pet may cause to personal property or a person. Most homeowner’s and renter’s insurance will cover this, but it is important to verify,” says Hill.
Is your pet vaccinated?
Keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date, and keep a record of it for your employer.
Ensuring that participating pets’ vaccinations are up to date is vital and requires constant monitoring, says Becky Neibarger, associate manager of public relations and social media at Bissell Inc., a vacuum cleaner and floor care product manufacturing corporation. The company has had considerable experience with pets at its Grand Rapids location, where 420 associates work. Its Pet Spot features associate work areas, a kitchenette, conference table, room for pet play, and a doggie door that accesses an enclosed outdoor area.
Is your pet clean and groomed?
Even pets don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. Make plans to have your pet bathed and/or groomed and her nails clipped before accompanying you to work.
Have you prepared your workspace?
Make sure your office environment is safe. Remove poisonous plants and pesticides. Hide electrical cords and wires. Secure toxic items such as permanent markers. Any office items in question should be placed out of your pet’s reach, says Stultz.
Have you packed the essentials?
Include food, treats, bowls, toys, leash, paper towels, clean-up bags, and pet-safe disinfectant. Stultz suggests that if you are routinely in and out of your workspace, bring a baby gate for your doorway or a portable kennel for your pet’s comfort and your peace of mind. Plan your pet’s feeding times so potty breaks will come during your slow or break times.
Do you have an exit strategy?
It may turn out that your pet doesn’t like going to work. Should he become agitated or withdrawn, consider taking him home or plan in advance for your spouse, friend, or professional pet sitter to take him home, says Stultz. Never leave your pet alone in a vehicle while you work.
Would pets work at your workplace?
Consider broaching the subject with your employer, and point out the success at other businesses.
At Bissell, for example, anyone can use the Pet Spot provided their job allows them to work remotely. With 32 pets currently registered to use the area, the Pet Spot’s fully booked schedule attests to its popularity, says Neibarger. She says the company has noticed that associates who use this benefit are productive, happy, and appreciate the opportunity.