A Game of Numbers- Tick borne diseases

Veterinarians are closet geeks, and geeks love numbers.

Did you know that if your dog maintains an average pulse rate (100 beats a minute) through a normal 13 year life span (covering 4745 days) that during that span  (113,800 hours) their heart will have beaten over six hundred eighty three and one-quarter of a million times!!  Imagine how much fun I am to talk to at a party.

The ultimate geeks of the Veterinary profession are the boys and girls that study parasites and the diseases they spread through contact with our animals. The Companion Animal Parasite Counsel (CAP-C) is a group of such professionals that have dragged themselves away from their microscopes to share some pretty surprising numbers with us.

Lyme’s disease (spread by ticks) was once thought to infect dogs only in the Northeastern United States is now a part of the contagious disease landscape of the South!  Every living creature wants to move to the South and diseased ticks are a part of that migration.

Those little snap tests that the Veterinarian’s at Animal Medical Center of Mt. Pleasant use to check your dog for heartworm, also tests for Rickettsial (spread by ticks) diseases: Lyme’s, Ehrlichia and Anaplasmosis – all potentially fatal.

The parasitologists from CAP-C gathered all of the tests from Veterinary clinics around here and found that one out of every 84 (1:84) in Charleston County was positive for Lyme’s disease, officially giving the area a moderate risk level.  With 1:27 in Georgetown County turning up positive, let’s assume the immediate risk to our dogs will only get worse.

Want more?

Ehrlichia (er-licky’-uh) was found in one of every 44 tested in Charleston County.  That makes the Low Country a moderate to high risk for Ehrlichia.  Oh, did I mention Ehlichiosis is something our dogs get from ticks?  See a theme here.

Anaplasmosis, while a low risk (1:231), is making in roads.  One can guess that the ticks (again) carrying this bug are either slowly walking south or haven’t received the Chamber of Commerce travel brochures from Charleston County touting the benefits of Southern life.

South Carolina has always been high risk for heartworm disease in our dogs (1:57).  Let’s write that off as part of the infatuation Charlestonians have with being at the top of any list and not that we may forget to give our preventatives occasionally.  If you’re thinking; hmm, I never give heartworm prevention.  I challenge you to step into your backyard, naked – like a dog, some warm summer night and count the number of mosquitos that collect on your flesh.  (Please, consider this an empathy experiment for your pet and not a nudist excursion.)

Anyway, that’s mosquito stuff.  Another day.

Ticks carry awful diseases, period.  And if I had to wager; bet me there are tick diseases out there that we don’t know about, yet.  Sensibly the most proactive medicine you can practice is to keep those filthy things off the dogs and cats in our homes.  The best money spent today in animal medicine is money you spend on any safe product that does just that.

Nexgard chewable treats are the newest breakthrough in tick prevention because it’s FDA approved against all species of ticks that cause bad disease.  And get this, dogs like them!!   Also on our shelves are a handful of topicals (Frontline Plus, Frontline Tritak, and Advantix) that keep fleas and ticks at bay.

By the way … the two cabinets we stack these products on at the clinic measure 6’x3’x1’ and 3’x3’x1’… that’s 27 cubic feet of tick prevention.

Dr. Geek has spoken.  Now go and getcha’ some.


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