Spring Weather Poses Disease Threat to Man's Best Friend; Ten States Top The List for Dreaded Disease

Apr 17, 2001, 01:00 ET from IDEXX Laboratories, Inc.

    WESTBROOK, Maine, April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Ah, spring!  For many
 Americans, the season brings warm weather, green grass, blooming flowers --
 and ticks carrying bacteria that cause disease, including Lyme disease.  As
 the fastest growing tick-transmitted disease in the United States, Lyme
 disease may threaten the health of twice as many dogs as it does humans.
     "According to experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
 (CDC), more than 16,000 cases of Lyme disease in people were reported during
 both 1998 and 1999 -- and CDC experts believe the disease is underreported,"
 says Jan K. Strother, DVM, a companion animal veterinarian in Harselle, Ala.
     "Studies conducted in Connecticut and Maryland found an estimated seven to
 12 unreported cases for each reported case.(1,2)  Unfortunately, dogs are at
 much greater risk for Lyme disease than are people living in the same
 geographic area and the ratio of unreported cases could be even higher."
     Tick season typically starts the last week of March and is at its highest
 level for the next six to eight weeks, putting millions of dogs and people at
 risk for Lyme disease and several other tick-transmitted diseases.  Human Lyme
 disease has been reported in all 50 states except Alaska.
     "The vast majority of Lyme disease cases in people -- more than 90 percent
 -- have occurred in eight Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states and two upper
 Midwestern states," Strother explains.  "But Lyme disease cases also are
 common in some areas on the Pacific Coast, specifically in California and
 Oregon.  And since ticks may move with people and dogs, this disease could
 appear anywhere."
     According to CDC reports, human Lyme disease is most prevalent in these
 10 states (ranked in descending order based on the number of reported cases in
 1999): New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland,
 Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Delaware.  California
 and Virginia are not far behind Delaware in number of cases reported each
 year.
     Lyme disease is caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacterium, Borrelia
 burgdorferi, that is found in certain species of ticks, including the
 black-legged (deer) tick (Ixodes scapularis) and the Western black-legged tick
 (Ixodes pacificus).  The disease is transmitted when an infected tick bites a
 dog, person or other mammal.  If not removed, the tick may feed for as long as
 four days.  Ticks must be attached for at least 24 hours before the bacterium
 is transmitted through saliva to the bite wound.
     "In many areas of the country, people and their pets are at moderate to
 high risk of exposure from April to November," Strother states.  "Ticks are
 most active at this time when people and their pets are spending more time
 enjoying outdoor activities.
     "A number of factors have contributed to increased risk of Lyme disease,"
 she continues.  "These include a large black-legged tick population, resulting
 from an exponential increase in the U.S. deer population; increased
 recreation; extended forest cover, especially in the Northeast; reduced
 hunting in some areas; and continued suburban sprawl.  Suburban living has
 brought more dogs into areas frequented by ticks and the animals that serve as
 hosts or reservoirs of disease."
     The most common signs of Lyme disease in dogs are recurrent arthritis and
 lameness that lasts for only three to four days, sometimes with a loss of
 appetite and depression.  Dog owners should be aware of these warning signs:
 Sudden occurrence of lameness, reluctance to move or a stiff, painful gait;
 warm, swollen joints; pain in the legs or throughout the body; fever; fatigue;
 loss of appetite; and swollen lymph nodes.  The signs may come and go, vary in
 intensity from mild to severe, and can mimic many other conditions.  If Lyme
 disease is suspected, a dog owner should contact his or her veterinarian as
 soon as possible to have the dog tested.
     Fortunately, there's a new blood test available that screens dogs
 simultaneously for Lyme disease, heartworm disease and ehrlichiosis, another
 rapidly emerging tick-transmitted disease.  The new in-clinic diagnostic test
 -- SNAP(R) 3Dx(TM), available from IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. -- takes only
 eight minutes and provides an accurate result, even if a dog has been
 vaccinated against Lyme disease.  With this quick, inexpensive test, the dog
 owners has the benefit of knowing if the dog has been exposed even before
 leaving the clinic.
     "The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends testing for Lyme
 disease in the spring and fall, whether or not a tick has been found on your
 dog," Strother says.  "Knowing if your best friend has been exposed to the
 bacterium that causes Lyme disease provides peace of mind.  A dog with a
 positive test result may not develop the disease, but at least you and your
 veterinarian will know to watch for possible signs.  That bit of knowledge is
 really the greatest benefit of the new in-clinic test."
     Strother encourages dog owners to ask their veterinarians about having
 their dogs tested for Lyme disease during their next visit.
     IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. ( http://www.idexx.com ) is a world leader in
 providing diagnostic, detection and information systems for veterinary, dairy
 and water testing applications.  The company's largest business unit is
 focused on animal health, combining biotechnology and information technology
 to create new opportunities and solutions for today's veterinary industry.
 Its veterinary business includes in-clinic diagnostic products, diagnostic
 reference laboratories and professional services, computer software and
 related information systems, and pharmaceuticals.  Headquartered in Westbrook,
 Maine, IDEXX employs more than 2,000 people and offers products to customers
 in more than 50 countries.
 
     References
     1.  Meek JI, Roberts CL, Smith EV Jr, Cartter ML. Underreporting of Lyme
         disease by Connecticut physicians, 1992. J Public Health Manage Pract
         1996;2:61-6.
     2.  Coyle BS, Strickland GT, Liang YY, Pena C, McCarter R, Israel E.
         Public impact of Lyme disease in Maryland. J Infect Dis
         1996;173:1260-2.
 
 

SOURCE IDEXX Laboratories, Inc.
    WESTBROOK, Maine, April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Ah, spring!  For many
 Americans, the season brings warm weather, green grass, blooming flowers --
 and ticks carrying bacteria that cause disease, including Lyme disease.  As
 the fastest growing tick-transmitted disease in the United States, Lyme
 disease may threaten the health of twice as many dogs as it does humans.
     "According to experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
 (CDC), more than 16,000 cases of Lyme disease in people were reported during
 both 1998 and 1999 -- and CDC experts believe the disease is underreported,"
 says Jan K. Strother, DVM, a companion animal veterinarian in Harselle, Ala.
     "Studies conducted in Connecticut and Maryland found an estimated seven to
 12 unreported cases for each reported case.(1,2)  Unfortunately, dogs are at
 much greater risk for Lyme disease than are people living in the same
 geographic area and the ratio of unreported cases could be even higher."
     Tick season typically starts the last week of March and is at its highest
 level for the next six to eight weeks, putting millions of dogs and people at
 risk for Lyme disease and several other tick-transmitted diseases.  Human Lyme
 disease has been reported in all 50 states except Alaska.
     "The vast majority of Lyme disease cases in people -- more than 90 percent
 -- have occurred in eight Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states and two upper
 Midwestern states," Strother explains.  "But Lyme disease cases also are
 common in some areas on the Pacific Coast, specifically in California and
 Oregon.  And since ticks may move with people and dogs, this disease could
 appear anywhere."
     According to CDC reports, human Lyme disease is most prevalent in these
 10 states (ranked in descending order based on the number of reported cases in
 1999): New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland,
 Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Delaware.  California
 and Virginia are not far behind Delaware in number of cases reported each
 year.
     Lyme disease is caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacterium, Borrelia
 burgdorferi, that is found in certain species of ticks, including the
 black-legged (deer) tick (Ixodes scapularis) and the Western black-legged tick
 (Ixodes pacificus).  The disease is transmitted when an infected tick bites a
 dog, person or other mammal.  If not removed, the tick may feed for as long as
 four days.  Ticks must be attached for at least 24 hours before the bacterium
 is transmitted through saliva to the bite wound.
     "In many areas of the country, people and their pets are at moderate to
 high risk of exposure from April to November," Strother states.  "Ticks are
 most active at this time when people and their pets are spending more time
 enjoying outdoor activities.
     "A number of factors have contributed to increased risk of Lyme disease,"
 she continues.  "These include a large black-legged tick population, resulting
 from an exponential increase in the U.S. deer population; increased
 recreation; extended forest cover, especially in the Northeast; reduced
 hunting in some areas; and continued suburban sprawl.  Suburban living has
 brought more dogs into areas frequented by ticks and the animals that serve as
 hosts or reservoirs of disease."
     The most common signs of Lyme disease in dogs are recurrent arthritis and
 lameness that lasts for only three to four days, sometimes with a loss of
 appetite and depression.  Dog owners should be aware of these warning signs:
 Sudden occurrence of lameness, reluctance to move or a stiff, painful gait;
 warm, swollen joints; pain in the legs or throughout the body; fever; fatigue;
 loss of appetite; and swollen lymph nodes.  The signs may come and go, vary in
 intensity from mild to severe, and can mimic many other conditions.  If Lyme
 disease is suspected, a dog owner should contact his or her veterinarian as
 soon as possible to have the dog tested.
     Fortunately, there's a new blood test available that screens dogs
 simultaneously for Lyme disease, heartworm disease and ehrlichiosis, another
 rapidly emerging tick-transmitted disease.  The new in-clinic diagnostic test
 -- SNAP(R) 3Dx(TM), available from IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. -- takes only
 eight minutes and provides an accurate result, even if a dog has been
 vaccinated against Lyme disease.  With this quick, inexpensive test, the dog
 owners has the benefit of knowing if the dog has been exposed even before
 leaving the clinic.
     "The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends testing for Lyme
 disease in the spring and fall, whether or not a tick has been found on your
 dog," Strother says.  "Knowing if your best friend has been exposed to the
 bacterium that causes Lyme disease provides peace of mind.  A dog with a
 positive test result may not develop the disease, but at least you and your
 veterinarian will know to watch for possible signs.  That bit of knowledge is
 really the greatest benefit of the new in-clinic test."
     Strother encourages dog owners to ask their veterinarians about having
 their dogs tested for Lyme disease during their next visit.
     IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. ( http://www.idexx.com ) is a world leader in
 providing diagnostic, detection and information systems for veterinary, dairy
 and water testing applications.  The company's largest business unit is
 focused on animal health, combining biotechnology and information technology
 to create new opportunities and solutions for today's veterinary industry.
 Its veterinary business includes in-clinic diagnostic products, diagnostic
 reference laboratories and professional services, computer software and
 related information systems, and pharmaceuticals.  Headquartered in Westbrook,
 Maine, IDEXX employs more than 2,000 people and offers products to customers
 in more than 50 countries.
 
     References
     1.  Meek JI, Roberts CL, Smith EV Jr, Cartter ML. Underreporting of Lyme
         disease by Connecticut physicians, 1992. J Public Health Manage Pract
         1996;2:61-6.
     2.  Coyle BS, Strickland GT, Liang YY, Pena C, McCarter R, Israel E.
         Public impact of Lyme disease in Maryland. J Infect Dis
         1996;173:1260-2.
 
 SOURCE  IDEXX Laboratories, Inc.