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Study shows increase of Lyme disease in dogs

The condition in canines is rising in states traditionally not considered to be high-risk, suggesting human endangerment may also be increasing in these areas

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Lyme disease in dogs has become increasingly common in the Northeast and has moved into U.S. regions not historically considered endemic.

That’s according to a new study by the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), which analyzed more than 16 million Lyme test results taken on domestic dogs in the country, aggregated by county and month.

Conducted from January 2012 to December 2016, the study was developed to investigate regional trends in antibody prevalence to Borrelia burgdorferi, the disease-causing bacterium of Lyme disease.

Published in the Environmetrics journal, “A Large Scale Spatio-Temporal Binomial Regression Model for Estimating Seroprevalence Trends” suggests:

  • Canine prevalence rates for Lyme disease is rising
  • Lyme prevalence rates are increasing most in areas where the pathogen has recently encroached, such as Maine, West Virginia, and Virginia, and the northern parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin
  • Lyme prevalence in dogs is rising in states traditionally not considered to be high-risk, suggesting human endangerment also may be increasing in these areas, including regions in Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota, Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee
  • Significant increases in canine Lyme prevalence also are seen in some areas, that have not yet reported significant human incidence

“Many people tend to believe if they don’t go on hikes or spend time in wooded areas, they aren’t at risk for Lyme,” said Craig Prior, BVSC, CVJ, past-president of the CAPC board of directors.

“Ticks are everywhere—including suburban and gated communities where deer, raccoons, opossum, birds, and other hosts frequent backyards. That’s why CAPC recommends year-round tick prevention for dogs and cats, as well as regular screening to protect dogs from this debilitating and hard-to-treat disease. By protecting your pet, you protect your family.”

CAPC’s website now provides 30-day forecasts for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases to help veterinarians, physicians, pet owners, and travelers assess the risk of exposure across the U.S. and Canada.

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