Diseases Carried by Ticks are an Issue in Ontario

Ticks are what is known as Vectors of Disease – they do not themselves cause a disease, but they can transmit various diseases causing agents between different hosts that they feed from.

The diseases they transmit, such as Lyme Diseases (see What Does Lyme Disease Mean to My Pet), Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichiosis, tend to be permanent infections. Medications such as Doxycycline may put them into remission, driving them back into hiding inside cells; but once they have established themselves inside the cells, there is no getting rid of them.

The Real-Time Disease Reporting site by Idexx Laborotories, is a site where these diseases can be tracked.

 It is a voluntary reporting site, which means the true incidence of these diseases is probably underestimated. The cases reported are the ones that had owners who did go to the vet to get a blood test (called a 4Dx – tests for Heartworm, Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis); and vets that did take the step to post their positive results on the website.

The numbers that do get reported are alarming:

  • Lyme Disease is the biggest player out there: in 2016, there were 1602 cases in Ontario; in 2017, there were 1208 cases, and this year, by this date (March 12, 2018) there have already been 49 cases.   
  • For Anaplasmosis, there were 115 cases in Ontario in 2016; 97 cases in 2017; and by this date there have been 4 cases.
  • For Ehrlichiosis, there were 160 cases in Ontario in 2016; 140 cases in 2017; and by this date there have been 4 cases.    

Be sure to take precautions against tick-borne diseases:

  • Get your dog’s 4Dx test in the Spring (heartworm takes 6 months to show up on a test, and the last chance to get a heartworm-positive mosquito bite is before frost in October. To be 6 months after this, we do not generally start testing until mid-April. The tick-borne diseases, however, would show up on the 4Dx test at any time)
  • Put your pet on a fast-kill tick preventive (such as Nexgard or Bravecto) any time the temperature is above 4 degrees Celsius
  • Vaccinate your pet against Lyme Disease
  • Be sure to inspect your dog after it has been outside for ticks, and remove them (see How to Remove Ticks)

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