In recent years, it seems that transmissible diseases that cross from animal to human either directly or through insect vectors are on the rise. These diseases are not new to the Panhandle area; however, the ability to spread awareness and information through online news outlets has led to increased awareness of these diseases.
How are vector-borne diseases like Lyme truly affecting Texas’ Panhandle animals?
According to the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL), the number of canine samples testing positive for Lyme disease has decreased.
- In 2014, TVMDL Amarillo confirmed 24 positive Lyme disease tests out of 148 submissions.
- In 2015, TVMDL Amarillo confirmed 7 positive Lyme disease tests out of 132 submissions.
- In 2016, to date, TVMDL Amarillo confirmed 2 positive Lyme disease cases out of 31 submissions.
The laboratory in Amarillo receives submissions from the Panhandle but also from other states. Regardless of origin, the samples are not testing positive for Lyme with the frequency of even two years ago. Yet, the disease is receiving increased attention on the human side of medicine.
What is Lyme disease?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists Lyme disease as the most common and fastest growing vector-borne, infectious disease in America.(1) According to the Texas Lyme Disease Association, Lyme disease is endemic in Texas, with the first identified case of human Lyme diagnosed in 19840.(2)
Lyme is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium that is transmitted to humans or dogs through an infected tick’s bite. The tick most identified with transmitting B.burgdorferi is the Blacklegged tick. Ticks are known vectors for several infectious diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever, tularemia, Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis.
How can Lyme disease be diagnosed?
While the best defense against ticks is prevention through regular flea and tick treatment for your dog, when ticks are observed, diagnostic testing to determine whether they carry infection is warranted. TVMDL offers practitioners and animal owners the following tests to assist with diagnosing a potentially infected animal.
The first step for animal owners when suspecting Lyme disease is to contact your family veterinarian. From there, the veterinarian can work with TVMDL to select the test that best fits the animal’s clinical signs.
For more information on how TVMDL works to protect animal and human health through diagnostics, visit tvmdl.tamu.edu.