Lyme disease threat spreads for Essex County pets
There are no reported human cases of Lyme disease so far this year in Windsor and Essex County, but it's another story for our four-legged friends.
“It is a new and emerging disease. It is a new threat,” says veterinarian Tony Braithwaite of the Kingsville Animal Hospital.
In the last month at Braithwaite's Kingsville clinic, six dogs have tested positive for Lyme disease. For the first time, it has affect dogs outside of the usual areas of Leamington and Kingsville.
“Now for first time, we’re beginning to see it west of Kingsville, which is a concern,” says Braithwaite. “Good news is, if we diagnose while animals are healthy. It’s fully treatable.”
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection, transmitted by the bite of an infected black legged tick.
“It will attach to your skin over the next 24 hours. It will take a blood meal and that's how bacteria is transmitted,” says Dr. Allen Heimann, Windsor-Essex medical officer of health.
This kind of tick has firmly established itself at Point Pelee National Park, where thousands of birders have descended.
“I don't check for ticks," laughs birder Allan Scase of Leamington.
Heimann says there is the potential for human cases of the disease in Windsor and Essex County. There were two in the area in 2011.
In Ontario last year, there were 162 confirmed cases, up dramatically from a decade ago.
Heimann says there are certain precautions people can take.
“Wear light-coloured clothing and use mosquito repellant,” he says. “In bush, check yourself and family regularly for ticks. If it’s promptly removed, the risk drops significantly.”
For dogs, the best prevention is protection.