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Two articles forarded by Karen Damari:

Extract from AKC Gazette, February 2019


New research says this hard-to-treat tick-borne disease is becoming a national, year-round concern.

An annual rite of spring for dog magazines is the publication of a story warning of the dangers of Lyme disease and other tick-borne maladies. Typically, such a story is brought out in April or May, when dogs and owners are spending more time outdoors in growing grass and verdant woods.

So, why are we presenting our Lyme story in the middle of the winter?

As you are about to read, Lyme disease, with its rising prevalence in the United States, can no longer be considered just a seasonal story. Lyme has spread from the Northeast to southern regions where some tick species are most active in the winter months. Nor is Lyme confined to wooded areas. Suburban backyards, where tick-carrying racoons poke around trash bins and deer graze on tulip bulbs, can be danger zones for dogs who lack year-round preventive treatment.

This article is based on data from the Companion Animal Parasite Council, as published in the October 2018 issue of the journal Environmetrics.

SALEM, OREGON-A new study from the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) shows prevalence for Lyme disease in dogs in endemic Northeast regions is increasing and moving into U.S. regions not historically considered endemic.


The study "A Large-Scale Spatio-Temporal Binomial Regression Model for Estimating Seroprevalence Trends," conducted from January 2012 to December 2016, investigated regional trends in antibody prevalence to Borrelia burgdorferi, the disease-causing bacterium of Lyme disease-America's most prevalent tick-borne disease. Researchers analyzed more than 16 million Lyme-test results taken on domestic American dogs, aggregated by county and month.

Dr. Michael Yabsley is a professor in the Department of Population Health at the University of Georgia's CVM. He says, "The results of this milestone study show increasing risk for Lyme disease in endemic areas and pinpoint regions in the U.S. where Lyme is spreading-areas not historically considered endemic. This expanding risk of Lyme disease demands heightened vigilance in protecting both our pets and our families from this devastating illness."


Lyme disease is a tick-borne bacterial zoonotic disease first identified in 1975 and name for the town in Connecticut where it was originally observed. The CAPC study was motivated by the rise in U.S. Lyme disease cases and, in particular, rising incidence in states not traditionally considered Lyme-endemic. The results suggest that canine prevalence rates for Lyme disease are rising, and Lyme prevalence rates are increasing most in areas where the pathogen has recently encroached.

Further, the study suggests that Lyme prevalence in dogs is rising in states traditionally not considered to be of high Lyme risk, suggesting that human risk may also be increasing in these areas. These include regions in Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee.

Significant increases in canine Lyme prevalence are also seen in some areas that have not yet reported significant human incidence. Given the proximity of these locations to recognized high-incidence areas, it is reasonable to infer that canine prevalence is more sensitive to changes in Lyme risk and could serve as an early-warning system for changes in human risk.

The CAPC research team analyzed over 16 million Lyme test results taken on American dogs over a 60-month period, aggregated by county and month.

"CAPC research shows the risk for Lyme disease is not static. The way it's changing varies spatially across the country," said Christopher McMahan, associate professor in the department of Mathematical Sciences at Clemson University. "Because Lyme is a zoonotic disease affecting both humans and dogs, this research demonstrates not only an expanding regional risk for Lyme in dogs, but it should aid our understanding of Lyme risk changes for humans."

Craig Prior, a Nashville veterinarian, says, "I've been practicing for over 34 years in Nashville, where many people don't think Lyme disease is a concern. But I've seen canine Lyme increasing in Tennessee for several years and regularly test and vaccinate for the disease."

Many people believe that if they and their dogs don't go on hikes or spend time in wooded areas, they are not at risk for Lyme. But, Prior says, "Ticks are everywhere- including suburban and gated communities where deer, raccoons, opossum, birds, and other hosts frequent backyards." For this reason, the CAPC recommends year-round tick prevention and regular screening to protect dogs from Lyme, which can be very difficult to treat.

There is a misperception that ticks are common in spring and summer but aren't active in winter months. "While not all species of ticks feed 365 days of the year, there are different species of ticks active all 12 months of the year," says Dr. Michael Yabsley, of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia. "The tick that transmits the Lyme agent is active at different times of the year in different regions. As you move farther south, for example, adult ticks are most active in winter. This is why year-round protection is critical." The CAPC website provides 30-day forecasts for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases to help veterinarians, physicians, pet owners, and travelers assess the risk of exposure across North America.


The regional rate of Lyme prevalence change between January 2012 and December 2016 is positive in all states currently recognized as having high human Lyme disease incidence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017), comprising portions of the Northeast and the Upper Midwest, including Maine, West Virginia and Virginia, and the northern parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Increasing local trends extend southward through West Virginia and Virginia, and into North Carolina and Tennessee. This region includes localities where Lyme disease is reportedly increasing. Increasing local trends in parts of northwestern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and southeastern Iowa are also apparent. In the Great Lakes region, increasing trends are observed in eastern Ohio, Indiana, and western Michigan.

This study continues CAPC's leadership to better understand parasitic diseases that threaten the health of pets and people. "Over six years ago, we formed a cross- functional team of parasit-ologists and statistical modelers from institutions including Clemson University and the University of Georgia. I'm grateful to this expert team that has worked closely with CAPC board members to help us provide the most updated information to help protect pets and their owners," said Dr. Christopher Carpenter, executive director of CAPC. "I believe our best work is still yet to come."

The Takeaway

Canine prevalence rates for Lyme disease are rising.

Prevalence rates are increasing most in areas where the pathogen has recently encroached, such as Maine, West Virginia, and Virginia, and the northern parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Lyme prevalence in dogs is rising in states traditionally not considered to be high-risk, suggesting human endangerment also may be increasing in these areas.

Significant increases in canine Lyme prevalence are seen in areas that have not yet reported significant human incidence.

CHF Tick-Borne Disease Podcasts

The AKC Canine Health Foundation founded its Tick-Borne Disease Initiative in 2016 to fund research into this potentially deadly family of diseases and to communicate the latest findings in the field to dog owners. Ongoing research projects include "Developing a Next Generation Sequencing Diagnostic Platform for Tickborne Diseases," "Surveillance of Hepatozoon Americanum in Populations of the Gulf Coast Tick Vector," and "Identifying Cellular Mechanisms of Inflammation During Canine Tick-Borne Diseases."

Below are two free CHF podcasts on the subject, presented by leaders in the field.


Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt, a specialist in internal medicine and infectious disease at North Carolina State University, has received CHF funding for research into various infectious diseases. In this podcast, Breitschwerdt describes several common tick-borne illnesses, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis. and Lyme disease. Breitschwerdt also shares the symptoms to watch for and what treatments are available.  Listen here

Dr. Edward B. Breitschwerdt is a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He is also an adjunct professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, and a Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). Dr. Breitschwerdt directs the Intracellular Pathogens Research Laboratory in the Institute for Comparative Medicine at North Carolina State University. He also co-directs the Vector Borne Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory and is the director of the NCSU-CVM Biosafety Level 3 Laboratory. 


CHF-funded research has identified a class of tick-borne organisms called Bartonella, which invade the host's blood vessels and can cause heart inflammation. AKC CHF Chief Executive Officer and board-certified veterinary clinical pathologist Dr. Diane Brown asks, "What if [Bartonella infection] is the early trigger that leads to chronic inflammation in the blood vessels, potentially leading to the development of cancer?"

CHF-funded research is looking at Bartonella in association with hemangiosarcoma, cancer of the blood vessels. "It's a little controversial," Brown says, "but there's a lot of impetus driving the re- search in this direction." CHF research also has shown immune mediated hemolytic anemia can be associated with tick-borne disease. "It's critical to test these dogs for an underlying tick-borne infection before treating them with steroids that can just exacerbate the problem." Listen here


Lyme Disease (Borreliosis) Information for Dog Owners

Key Facts

  • Signs of disease in infected dogs are uncommon but some dogs develop mild lameness and rarely some develop kidney disease.
  • A positive Lyme disease blood test detects antibodies in the blood that are produced after a dog is bitten by an Ixodes (black-legged) tick that is infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacterium is transferred to the dog after a minimum of 24 hours of tick attachment and the dog's body makes antibodies against the bacterium. Most often, this occurs without the dog getting sick.
  • Dogs living in areas with Lyme (Borrelia)-infected ticks will frequently test positive for Lyme but not have signs of disease.
  • Tick prevention is critical for preventing Lyme disease.
  • Lyme disease is becoming more common (emerging) in different parts of the USA and in Canada.

What is it?

Lyme disease (or borreliosis) is caused by a type of bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacterium is transmitted to dogs through the bite of an infected tick. Only certain ticks (Ixodes or blacklegged ticks) can harbor the bacterium. Ticks must be attached to the dog and feeding for a minimum of 24-48 hours to transmit the bacterium. The majority of dogs that test positive for Lyme disease (or more accurately, develop antibodies against B. burdgorferi) never develop illness or get sick.

When Lyme disease does occur in a dog, it is typically a mild lameness (that may shift from leg to leg) and fever. Lameness most commonly develops 2 to 6 months after the dog is bitten by an infected tick.

Lyme disease is most common in the northeastern coastal states and the upper Midwest of the USA. It is considered an emerging disease in many other parts of the U.S.A. and Canada.

Who gets it?

Dogs with a lifestyle that increases their chance of tick exposure (e.g. those that spend time in grassland or wooded areas) are at greater risk of being exposed. Sporting, field trial and hunting dogs are at greatest risk due to the amount of time they spend outdoors in tick infested areas. Dogs are most likely to get infected when they live in or travel to areas where Lyme is regularly found (called "endemic areas"), especially when appropriate tick prevention measures are not used.

Can people get sick with it?

Yes. However, Lyme disease in people is very different than what occurs in dogs. People can use the information about dogs becoming Lyme positive on veterinary testing to help remember to apply appropriate tick prevention for themselves in order to avoid human Lyme disease and reduce risk. People get infected the same way dogs do, from the bite of an infected tick. Infected dogs cannot infect people.

How is it spread? (Transmission & Infection Risk)

Ixodes ticks (black-legged or deer ticks) are the ticks that can be infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. After the tick bites and attaches to the dog, one of the following may occur:

1.      Nothing. The dog doesn't get infected with Borrelia.

2.      Positive test result for Lyme. The dog is infected with Borrelia, but the dog's immune system gets rid of the bacteria and the dog doesn't get sick. These dogs usually are Lyme positive on a blood test since they have been exposed/infected by the Lyme bacteria and have developed antibodies - which is what the test looks for and makes it positive.

3.      Lyme disease. The dog is infected with Borrelia and gets sick with Lyme disease. These dogs are usually positive on a blood test since they have been exposed to the Lyme bacteria and are making antibodies in an attempt to fight the infection.

What should I look for? (Signs of Disease)

Most infected dogs do not show any signs of disease but may be positive on a Lyme blood test for all of their life. It is estimated that only 3-10% of dogs exposed to an infected tick will develop illness associated with Lyme disease.  The most common signs of illness are:

  • Fever (103° to 105°F), listless or lethargy, loss of appetite and interest in drinking.
  • Lameness (polyarthropathy) that may shift from leg to leg. Swelling near joints and painful legs.
  • Lymph node enlargement


Kidney (renal) disease called protein losing nephropathy (PLN) or Lyme nephritis may be linked to Lyme disease. Signs may consist of vomiting, drinking and urinating more than usual, not eating, listless or lethargy.

How is it diagnosed?

Unfortunately, Lyme disease is not easy to diagnose, since many dogs will test positive on a blood test (whether they are sick or not). Results of the blood test alone do not indicate whether Lyme disease is present and treatment is needed.

The following are guidelines that help your veterinarian figure out if a dog has Lyme disease:

1. Is there history of being in a Lyme endemic area?

2. Are there clinical signs (i.e. lameness, fever)?

3. Is there a history of tick exposure/attachment?

4. Is there another infection or disease that may be the cause of your dog's signs?

5. Is the dog positive for Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme) on a blood test?

Testing for other tickborne diseases (Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, Rickettsia, Babesia) may be recommended by your veterinarian to try and make sure these diseases aren't causing your dog's illness.

What is the treatment? Will my dog recover?

Healthy dogs with a positive Lyme antibody test and no signs of disease do not require treatment. In some cases, veterinarians may wish to periodically run blood and similar tests to ensure your dog remains free of disease and that complications such as kidney disease are not present.

Antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian are used to treat dogs with lameness or other signs of illness if Lyme disease is determined to be the likely cause of their illness. Fever and lameness from Lyme disease respond rapidly to antibiotic treatment (within 1-3 days), but a full treatment course is necessary to eliminate the infection. In the extremely rare case of kidney disease (Lyme nephritis) the prognosis (chance of full recovery) is variable and will depend on how sick the dog becomes and how they respond to treatment.

How can I stop this from happening to my dog and other dogs?

The risk of tick-transmitted infections such as Lyme disease can be decreased by limiting
a dog's access to tick-infested areas. Tick prevention products (collars, topicals and orals) that repel ticks or prevent attachment are highly effective for preventing Lyme disease (and other infections carried by ticks) in dogs when used according to label directions. Your veterinarian can recommend specific tick prevention products best for your dog's risks. Prompt removal of any ticks on your dog is important as ticks need to feed for at least one day to pass the bacteria.

Lyme disease vaccination is another method that may help decrease infection in dogs that spend time outdoors in areas where Lyme disease is known to occur. Vaccination should not be used instead of effective tick prevention methods.

Information to help you and your veterinarian make decisions on vaccines, vaccine schedules, and whether your dog is adequately protected from Lyme disease can be found in the Resources below.

In addition to individual dog tick prevention, other methods may be indicated for locations with high risk; for example, altering areas to create "tick-free zones" (e.g. removing excessive vegetation, keeping grass short, use of mulch as a tick barrier) or scheduling events for times when Lyme risk is lowest. Canine group event coordinators should consult with someone with experience in veterinary infectious disease risk assessment to increase awareness and attention to tick prevention. Dogs can act as indicators for human Lyme disease risk; similar prevention recommendations should be made to people coming into these areas.

Risk Prevention

Ixodes ticks are very common in certain regions of the USA. Knowledge of increased risk of exposure and high levels of ticks in a given area/event location, will be important information for you and your dog to help reduce and manage risk of infection.


Forwarded by member Karen Damari:

FDA Alert On Flea and Tick Products for Pets(October 25, 2018, AKC)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an alert for the public and professionals (September 2018). The products mentioned in the warning are very popular flea and tick preventatives. Many veterinarians I spoke with regularly prescribe these products for their patients and have not been seeing cats or dogs with symptoms such as the ones described in the alert. The FDA considers these products safe to stay on the market. If, however, you have concerns about the continued use of these products, you should contact your veterinarian to discuss the issue.

Here is more information on the topic:

The Food and Drug Administration has issued an alert advising pet owners of the potential for adverse reactions (muscle tremors, loss of muscle control and seizures) in dogs and cats when treated with drugs in the Isoxazoline class. The FDA continues to consider these products to be safe and effective for dogs and cats but is providing this information so that pet owners and veterinarians can consider it when choosing flea and tick products for their pets.

The drugs under this alert include commonly prescribed flea and tick preventatives such as Bravecto, Credelio, Nexgard, and Simparica. The FDA considers these products safe.

FDA Warns of Possible Link Between Grain-Free Dog Foods and Heart Disease(July 12, 2018, American Veterinarian)

As previously reported by American Veterinarian®, there is a notable discrepancy between the types of pet foods veterinarians and pet owners believe to be healthy for dogs and cats. For instance, when asked whether low- or no-grain diets are healthier for dogs, 46% of pet owners said yes, while 63% of veterinary professionals said no, according to a survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Similarly, 63% of pet owners said corn was not healthy for dogs, but 50% of veterinarians said it was.

Could a gap in knowledge become detrimental to pets?

Today, the FDA released a warning to veterinarians and pet owners about reports of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating pet foods that contained peas, lentils, legume seeds, or potatoes as the main ingredients. It is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM.
The reports raised a red flag because DCM is occurring more frequently in breeds that are not considered genetically predisposed to developing the disease, including golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, whippets, a Shih Tzu, a bulldog, miniature schnauzers, and mixed breeds.

In the cases reported to the FDA, the dogs were being fed diets that commonly listed potatoes or multiple legumes as well as their protein, starch, and fiber sources early in the ingredient list, indicating that those were the main ingredients. High levels of legumes or potatoes are found often in products labeled as "grain-free."

The medical records for 4 of the atypical DCM cases-3 golden retrievers and 1 Labrador retriever-revealed that the dogs had low whole blood levels of taurine, which is documented as potentially leading to DCM.

The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network are investigating this potential association. According to the FDA, early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the dogs ate these foods consistently for time periods ranging from months to years.

In an article that originally appeared on the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University's blog Petfoodology, Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN, recalled a recent patient that was diagnosed with DCM at the school's hospital. Upon further evaluation, it was discovered that the 4-year-old beagle-Labrador mix had been fed a grain-free pet food that contained kangaroo meat and chickpeas.

"Recently, some astute cardiologists noticed higher rates of DCM in golden retrievers and some atypical dog breeds," Dr. Freeman wrote. "They also noticed that both the typical and atypical breeds were more likely to be eating boutique or grain-free diets, and diets with exotic ingredients-kangaroo, lentils, duck, pea, fava bean, buffalo, tapioca, salmon, lamb, barley, bison, venison, and chickpeas. Even some vegan diets have been associated. It has even been seen in dogs eating raw or home-prepared diets."

While the investigation is ongoing, the FDA is encouraging pet owners and veterinary professionals to report cases of DCM that may be linked to a dog's diet by using the Safety Reporting Portal.
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  Forwarded to us from our past president Bill Pfeiffer:




Dr. Patricia Norris, director
N.C. Animal Welfare Section

NCDA&CS receiving reports of canine influenza 
Shelters and boarding facilities advised to 
take additional precautions to prevent spread

RALEIGH – North Carolina veterinary officials have received confirmation of three cases of canine influenza in Asheville and Winston-Salem, and are receiving reports of suspected cases in Greensboro.

According to reports, more than 200 dogs may have the virus, but since it is not a reportable disease in North Carolina, the problem could be more widespread. Veterinarians are asked to voluntarily report cases to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Animal Welfare Section at 919-715-7111 so officials can track the spread.

The signs of canine flu are cough, runny nose and fever and are similar to other respiratory problems. Other signs can include lethargy, eye discharge, reduced appetite and low-grade fever. Most dogs recover within two to three weeks. However, secondary bacterial infections can develop, and may cause more severe illness and pneumonia. Anyone with concerns about their pet’s health, or whose pet is showing signs of canine influenza, should contact their veterinarian. Dog owners should consider limiting contact with other dogs and visits to communal areas.

The virus is highly contagious and easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs through direct contact, nasal secretions (through coughing and sneezing), contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.

There is a canine flu vaccination, but it may not be appropriate for all dogs. Pet owners should contact their veterinarian to determine if vaccination is advisable.

Dr. Patricia Norris, director of the Animal Welfare Section, recommends that boarding and shelter facilities review their current intake, isolation, veterinary care, monitoring and sanitation protocols with their facility veterinarian to be sure they are taking adequate measures to control the spread of this virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza viruses from dogs to people and there has not been a reported case of human infection with canine influenza. Also, this strain of influenza is different from avian influenza that has caused the deaths of birds in the Midwest.

More information can be found at


NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Brian Long, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047"

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