Tick-borne diseases

There’s more than just Lyme

By now most people in the Capital District are familiar with Lyme disease. It deservedly gets a lot of media attention and at Bethlehem Veterinary Hospital, in Glenmont, the veterinarians diagnose many cases in their canine patients throughout the year. But Drs. Kearney and La Forte report that Lyme is not the only threat in our area. In fact, one tick can transmit multiple diseases with just one bite. In the past two years, they have started seeing two other tick borne diseases, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis.

Anaplasmosis, or tick fever, is transmitted by the same ticks that carry Lyme disease.

Most pets will start showing signs within 14 days of infection. Some of the signs can be easily confused with Lyme disease. Dogs can present with a loss of appetite, a fever, lethargy (quieter than normal), with joint pain and stiffness. But as the disease progresses the owners may notice weight loss, bloody noses, bruises, vomiting and diarrhea. In rare cases seizures and other neurological disorders can occur.

Anaplasmosis has also been reported in cats who go outdoors, but is not as common as in dogs. Signs again can include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, weight loss, bruising, joint pain, difficulty breathing, vomiting and diarrhea.

Dr. La Forte reports that the first cases she saw 2 years ago all lived in a localized area near River Road in Glenmont. By the beginning of 2011, her cases were coming from Glenmont, Ravena and Selkirk. By September 2011, she was diagnosing cases from the hamlet of Delmar. Anaplasmosis is on the move. The majority of cases respond to Doxycycline, the same antibiotic that treats Lyme disease. But 2 of her patients have died from the disease.

Ehrlichiosis is another tick-borne disease now showing up in the Town of Bethlehem. Symptoms of Ehrlichiosis include lethargy, fever, coughing, bloody noses, bruising and joint pain. Both Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis affect the ability of the body to clot blood so the animals present with bleeding disorders.

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