Diseases, Worms and Infections

  • Lyme Disease

    Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. A spirochete is a type of bacterium. It is transmitted to dogs through the bite of a tick. Once in the blood stream, the Lyme disease organism is carried to many parts of the body and is likely to localize in joints. It was first thought that only a few types of ticks could transmit this disease, but now it appears that several common species may be involved. The most common type of tick to carry Lyme disease is the Deer Tick.

    Can Lyme disease also affect people?
    Yes, but people do not get it directly from dogs. They get it from being bitten by the same ticks that transmit it to dogs. Therefore, preventing exposure to ticks is important for you and your dog.

    What are the clinical signs?
    Many people with Lyme disease develop a characteristic bull's-eye rash at the site of the bite within three to thirty days. For these people, the disease can be easily diagnosed at an early stage. However, symptoms of Lyme disease are more difficult to detect in animals than in people.

    The characteristic rash does not develop in dogs or cats. Because the other symptoms of the disease may be delayed or go unrecognized and because the symptoms are similar to those of many other diseases, Lyme disease in animals is often not considered until other diseases have been eliminated.

    Many dogs affected with Lyme disease are taken to a veterinarian because they seem to be experiencing generalized pain and have stopped eating. Affected dogs have been described as if they were "walking on eggshells." Often these pets have high fevers. Dogs may also begin limping. This painful lameness often appears suddenly and may shift from one leg to another. If untreated, it may eventually disappear, only to recur weeks or months later.

    Recently, evidence is surfacing that a Lyme infection can affect the kidneys causing a syndrome known as Lyme Nephritis. This disease can progress to eventual kidney failure.

    Some pets are affected with the Lyme disease organism for over a year before they finally show symptoms. Other dogs can have infections and never develop symptoms. In fact, this may happen more frequently than we once thought. It is thought that less than 10% of dogs that are infected actually develop symptoms.

    How is Lyme disease diagnosed?
    Dogs with lameness, swollen joints, and fever are suspected of having Lyme disease. However, other diseases may also cause these symptoms. As part of your dog's annual wellness exam, your vet may check for Lyme disease. If you live in a Lyme endemic area, your dog may have a positive test. This does not mean they have Lyme disease! It only indicates exposure to the ticks carrying the parasite. Your vet may or may not recommend treatment. However, if your dog is exhibiting clinical symptoms treatment is warranted. All dogs with a positive test should be screened for underlying and early kidney disease. This can be done with a urine sample.

    How is Lyme disease treated?
    Because the Lyme spirochete is a bacterium, it can be controlled by antibiotics. Doxycycline is the drug of choice. However, a lengthy course of treatment is necessary and total eradication of the organism is not likely. Occasionally, the initial infection will recur, or the pet will become re-infected after being bitten by another infected tick.

    How can I prevent my dog from getting Lyme disease?
    The key to prevention is keeping your dog from being exposed to ticks. Ticks are found in grassy, wooded, and sandy areas. They find their way onto an animal by climbing to the top of a leaf, blade of grass, or short trees and shrubs. Here they wait until their sensors detect a close-by animal on which to crawl or drop. Keeping animals from thick underbrush reduces their exposure to ticks. Dogs should be kept on trails when walked near wooded or tall grass areas. Total prevention is multi-faceted and includes immediate removal of the tick, (It takes time for an infected tick to transmit Borrelia to a dog, this typically can happen no sooner than 18-24 hours from the beginning of the blood meal), application of a tick repellent and vaccination. Prevention options should be discussed in detail with your veterinarian and tailored to your pets risk of exposure.

    How do I remove a tick from my dog?
    Check your pet immediately after it has been in a tick-infected area. The Deer Tick is a small tick and only about pinhead size in juvenile stage, but a little more obvious in adult phase and after feeding. If you find a tick moving on your pet, the tick has not fed. Remove the tick promptly and place it in rubbing alcohol or crush it between two solid surfaces. If you find a tick attached to your pet, grasp the tick with fine tweezers or your finger nails near the dog's skin and firmly pull it straight out. You may need another person to help restrain your dog. Removing the tick quickly is important since the disease is not transmitted until the tick has fed for approximately twelve hours. If you crush the tick, do not get the tick's contents, including blood, on your skin. The spirochete that causes Lyme disease can pass through a wound or cut in your skin.

  • Roundworms and Hookworms

    Worms like roundworms and hookworms that infect pets can infect people, too. These infections, like others acquired from animals, are called zoonotic infections, or zoonoses. You owe it to yourself and your family to find out about these zoonotic infections, and learn how to prevent them.

    What Are Roundworms and Hookworms?
    The most common type of parasitic worms found in cats and dogs are roundworms and hookworms. Both are intestinal parasites, living and growing inside your pet's intestine. Roundworms and hookworms develop from eggs into larvae (immature worms). The larvae later become adult worms.

    Most pets show no sign of infection; but some do. Signs include vomiting, loss of appetite, or severe weight loss. Heavy infections in young puppies and kittens may be fatal.

    How Does a Pet Get Worms?
    Dogs and cats of any age can get roundworms and hookworms; but as puppies and kittens, they are at their most vulnerable. It's not unusual for puppies just two to three weeks of age to harbor a significant number of worms. That's because these worms are often passed from mother to puppies before birth. Sometimes they are passed shortly after birth, through her milk.

    How Do These Worms Infect People?
    Dogs and cats infected with these worms contaminate their surroundings by passing eggs of larvae in their feces (waste). Because pets pass feces anywhere, they may contaminate a large area quickly. These eggs and larvae are resilient and can survive in areas such as parks, playgrounds, and yards - and even inside homes.

    People get roundworm and hookworm infections through direct contact with infected feces. This usually happens by chance ingestion of contaminated soil, sand, or plant life. Hookworm larvae penetrate the skin. Children are more vulnerable to infection than adults, perhaps because they play on the ground with dirt that may be contaminated. Maybe it's because kids are more likely to put dirty object into their mouths. Some children pass through a stage in which they eat dirt  which make them more prone to get these infections.

    How Do Roundworms Harm People?
    Roundworms enter the body when ingested as eggs that soon hatch into larvae. These larvae travel through the liver, lungs, and other organs. In most cases, these "wandering worms" cause no symptoms or apparent damage. However, in some cases they produce a condition known as visceral larva migrans. The larvae may cause damage to tissue and sometimes affect the nerves, or even lodge in the eye. In some cases, they may cause permanent nerve or eye damage, even blindness.

    How Do Hookworms Harm People?
    Hookworm larvae typically move about within the skin, causing inflammation in the affected skin. This is called cutaneous (skin) larva migrans. One type of hookworm can penetrate into deeper tissues and cause more serious damage to the intestine and other organs.

    How Can I Protect My Pets and Myself Against Worm Infections?
    The staff at the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee can recommend treatments to eliminate and help prevent these worm infections. Since these products are available in many forms the veterinarian will consult with you so that you will get the treatments that will work most effectively on your dog or cat.

    You can take the following steps to make you and your pet safe from worms:
    1) Have puppies and kittens dewormed by your Bideawee vet at an early age.
    2) Start or keep your pets on a preventive drug program that treats and controls these worms.
    3) Learn to recognize and avoid possibly contaminated soil, sand, plants, and other objects. Teach your children to do the same.
    4) Keep play areas, lawns, and gardens around your home free of animal waste.
    5) Bag and dispose of pet feces.
    6) Cover sandboxes when not in use.
    7) Follow leash laws in your area.

    By following these steps and taking an active role in your pet's healthcare you will be prepared to protect your pet against these parasites.

  • Parasitic Infections

    Five Common Questions About Parasitic Infections
    What Is Parasitic Zoonosis?
    Some parasitic infections in pets can be transmitted from animals to people. The three common zoonotioc internal parasites in pets are roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.

    Parents should be aware of these parasitic diseases because young children are especially at risk. Children are often less careful about hygene and are more likely to put their hands in their mouths. Kids are also likely to play outside in potentially contaminated dirt, grass, or sand.

    How Are These Infections Transmitted?
    Children become infected by playing in soil or sand that is contaminated with fecal matter and then putting their hands or contaminated objects in their mouths. Hookworm larvae can also penetrate human skin.

    When Are These Parasites a Problem?
    Intestinal parasite eggs and larvae are virtually everywhere in the environment, and some can survive in the soil for years with the ability to infect pets or people. Some species thrive in warm climates while others prosper in cold regions. This is why routine deworming and preventative steps are so important.

    Where Can I Get More Information?
    It's easy to keep your pets healthy by routinely deworming you pet. See the veterinarians at the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee for more information on parasites, prevention and the most complete treatment available for your pets. You may also visit www.nowroms.com.

    Strategic deworming is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP) and the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC).

    9 Easy Steps to Reduce the Risk of Parasitic Infection
    The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee remind you that to easily reduce the risk to your family and pets from parasite infections follow these simple preventive measures.

    1) Deworm your dog or cat on a regular schedule. This removes intestinal parasite and reduces additional contamination of the environment.
    2) Practice good hygiene. Wash hands regularly, especially after handling pets or cleaning up pet waste.
    3) Remove pet droppings from you yard at least 2-3 times a week. Daily is best to eliminate potential contamination. Children should avoid playing in known animal toileting areas. Cover sandboxes when not in uses.
    4) Keep pets flea-=free. Fleas transmit disease, and ingestion of fleas can transmit tapeworms to animals and people.
    5) Do not allow children to go barefoot, sit, or lie on playgrounds on in parks where they are exposed to animal stools. Hookworm larvae can penetrate the skin.
    6) Clean cat litter boxes daily and wash hands afterward.
    7) Do not drink water from streams of other sources that may be contaminated with animal feces.
    8) Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
    9) Keep pets cleans; bathe pets after deworming.

  • Cats and Bartonella

    The Cat Scratch Disease Bacteria
    Approximately 20% of healthy cats living in the United States are infected carriers of these dangerous Bartonella bacteria. You can learn to stop the spread of Bartonella from cat to cat, and cat to human, with a simple blood test of your cat.

    Healthy cats can carry six members of the Bartonella bacteria family in their blood, which are transmitted between cats by fleas and ticks. The bacteria can be spread to people via cat scratches, bites, contact with fur, and in rare instances by infected fleas and ticks.

    Bartonella are difficult to culture from the blood of infected cats. There is, however, an accurate blood test available that can detect infected cats. Please make an appointment with the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee if you feel your cat may need to be tested.

    How Prevalent is Bartonella Infection?
    The prevalence of Bartonella-infected cats varies in different geographic areas, and depends on the average temperature and rainfall (humidity) in the area. About 20% of healthy cats in the United States are infected carriers. The highest infection rates occur in hot, humid climates, where conditions are favorable for fleas and ticks. Most untreated infected cats remain infected for years or for life.

    Risk Factors for Infection
    Risk facts that make cats more likely to have flea infestation and thus become infected with Bartonella are:

    -Originating as a stray
    -Coming from a shelter or a humane group that does not vaccinate or test cats for the disease
    -Living in a Multi-cat household
    -Going outdoors often
    -Living in a hot and humid area

    Cat Bartonella Disease
    Cat Bartonella possess hair-like structures found on the bacteria's surface, which allow the bacteria to stick to, and penetrate, red blood cells and the cells that make up the walls of capillaries. This ability leads to the wide and varied tissue specificity observed in cats, dogs, and people. Bartonella induce inflammatory reactions in many tissues throughout the infected animal's body, such as oral and respiratory mucosa, ocular tissue, gastro-intestinal tissues, the skin, and organs like the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. In fact, since capillaries are found in all tissues, all tissues are susceptible to the inflammatory effects of Bartonella. Inflammatory reactions often occur concurrently in multiple sites such as the oral respiratory tissues, ocular and oral tissues or in other combinations. Although numerous microorganisms can cause inflammatory diseases, it appears that Bartonella are the cause of about 40 to 50% of the following conditions in pet cats:

    -Oral diseases
    -Respiratory diseases
    -Ocular diseases (conjunctivitis, uveitis, chorioretinitis, corneal ulcers, keratitis)
    -Intestinal diseases (inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea or vomiting)
    -Other diseases such as enlarged nymph nodes, fever of unknown origin, skin diseases (papules and dermatitis), and heart disease (valvular disease - murmurs)

    Treatment of Bartonella
    Antibiotic therapy of healthy infected cats and cats with Bartonella-induced diseases are effective for most cats. Owners should be careful while treating their cats to avoid being scratched or bitten.

     Bartonella Disease in Humans
    Bartonella transmitted from cats can cause up to 22 human diseases - and cat scratch disease is only the tip of the Bartonella disease iceberg. The Bartonella diseases that can infect humans are:

    -Bacillary angiomatosis and peliosis
    -Febrile bacteremia
    -Heart diseases (endocarditis and vegetative valvular disease)
    -Eye diseases (uveitis, neuroretinitis, disciform keratitis)
    -Neurological disorders (meningoencephalitis and AIDS encephalitis)
    -Musculoskeletal diseases (osteomyelitis, arthralgia, juvenile arthritis, and myositis)
    -Skin diseases (cutaneous rash-Henoch Schenlein purpura and cutaneous granuloma annulare)
    -Inflammatory bowel disease
    -Mononucleosis-like syndrome
    -Pulmonary infiltrates
    -Lymphadenopathy (lymph node enlargement)
    -Lyme disease co-infection

    Cat Scratch Disease
    Cat scratch disease is the best-known Bartonella disease. More than 22,000 cases occur each year, from which more than 2,000 people require hospitalization. The disease usually begins a few weeks after transmission of Bartonella from cats with a red papule at the site of a scratch or bite. Lymph nodes that drain the injury site become inflamed, enlarged, painful, and may develop an abscess that may burst and drain. Severe cases may involve the organs, neurological complications, and in rare cases, a coma.

    The eyes are a common site of Bartonella localization in people where generalized inflammation occurs in the outer membranes, eyelids, irises, retina, and optic nerves.

    Neurological disorders like encephalopathy, convulsions, and coma are some conditions associated with Bartonella infections in people.

    Bartonella infections may also cause persistent or intermittent fevers (101 to 105 degrees) where a physician is unable to diagnose the case. The high fevers and flu-like signs may last 7 to 10 days.

    Infectious Mononucleosis-like Syndrome may occur in children, clinically identical to infectious mononucleosis, because of Bartonella infection.

    Last, some people with chronic Lyme disease whose conditions were resistant to treatment were found to be co-infected with Bartonella. The signs of disease in these people cleared after treatment for Bartonella.

    What Can You Do Against Bartonella?
    The Animal Hospitals at Bideawee recommend that all healthy pet cats, especially those obtained as strays or from shelters or animal rescue organizations, and those that have had flea infestations, be tested for Bartonella. Kittens are more likely than older cats to transmit the bacteria because of their playful nature and their interactions with people, especially children. Interestingly, boys are more likely to develop cat scratch disease more often than girls, probably because boys play more roughly with kittens and thus are more likely to be scratched or bitten. It is especially important that cats owned by people with young children, people whose cats have been infested with fleas, and people with immunosuppressed systems because of chemotherapy, organ transplants, or HIV infection, have their cats tested.

    Make sure you treat you cat if your cat is infected. The veterinarians at the Animal Hospitals at Bideawee will prescribe antibiotic therapy and intensive flea control. Antibiotic therapy can rid these bacteria from your cat and make your pet safe once again.