Lyme Disease on the Rise

Disease from TicksFor this article, dvm360 interviewed Susan E. Little, DVM. Dr. Little works in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University. She is a past president of the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists and an expert on veterinary and human parasites and tick-borne disease agents.

According to Dr. Little, human cases of Lyme disease are increasing, which means the number of infected dogs is also increasing (human cases are tracked, canine cases are not tracked in the same manner).

Dr. Little says regions of the U.S. not previously endemic for Lyme disease also appear to be increasing. Human cases are coming from more counties and states than in the past. In recent years, more cases have been reported in the Great Lakes area and south along the East Coast all the way to North Carolina.

However, the majority of cases remain in the Northeast and upper Midwest.

Dr. Little would like veterinarians to maintain a heightened awareness that coinfection with other pathogens is common among dogs that test positive for Lyme disease. If an animal has one tick-borne disease, it very likely has others. In particular, any dog that doesn't respond to treatment for a single diagnosis should be checked for coinfection.

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