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Year in Review: Tick Borne Disease

When you look back at the year, you probably aren't wondering what has been happening to your local disease rates. That's ok - That's what I'm here for!

In San Diego we have our our ticks (and their diseases), but we are also a very global city. Dogs from around the country (and other countries) come to San Diego through shelters, adoption, and moving. Due to this globalization combined with an increase in the local tick population, the diseases carried by ticks are on the rise. You could even say, we've seen an uptick in them (wink, wink). These diseases include Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma.

Lyme disease is probably the most well known tick borne disease. It is a bacteria carried by the Western Blacklegged Tick. In 2012, San Diego county had 36 dogs test positive for Lyme disease. This number is up to 63 in 2018. To compare to the Northern East Coast where Lyme disease is most prevalent, Hampshire County in West Virgina has had 214 cases so far this year, and Burlington County, New Jersey has had 1,283.

Ehrlichia & Anaplasma are less well known bacteria transmitted by ticks, but they are actually more common in our area than Lyme disease.

Ehrlichiosis is transmitted by several different species of ticks, including the brown dog tick, the American dog tick or the lone star tick. Infected dogs may show no signs at all, or there may be vague signs, such as fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, or nose bleeds. In some cases, chronic infection can lead to arthritis, immune cell abnormalities, and bone marrow suppression (which can be fatal). In 2012, San Diego County had 68 dogs test positive for Ehrlichia. This number is up to 500 this year.

Anaplasma is transmitted by the black-legged tick and the brown dog tick. Similar to ehrlichosis, dogs may not show any signs of infection. If they do, common signs include fever, lethargy, poor appetite, and muscle and joint pain. In 2012, San Diego County had a mere 28 cases of Anaplsma. This year that number is up to 184.

What does all of this mean? Tick and the diseases they carry are on the rise in San Diego. In the last 5 years the number of dogs testing positive for Lyme disease has gone from 36 to 63, Ehrlichia from 68 to 500, and Anaplasma from 28 to 184.

Want more information about where you are traveling? Check out the incidence map provided by the Companion Animal Parasite Council, which is where the above information was gathered.

These disease do infect humans, but only through a tick bite. You can not catch it directly from contact with your dog, but if you and your pet are going to the same areas, please watch out for the same ticks.

As part of an annual health program, Halsey Veterinary Care recommends testing for these diseases and will discuss if tick prevention is appropriate for your pet. Tick prevention should be considered depending on your yard, where you walk or hike, and where you travel.

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