Tick-borne diseases Ė More than just Heartworm

Look at the information for the new simple test

Dog owners can now leave the veterinary clinic knowing whether or not their dogs are suffering from three different tick-borne diseases.

The canine SNAP(r) 4Dx(r) in-clinic blood test developed by IDEXX Laboratories screens dogs for exposure to Lyme disease and two other emerging tick-borne diseases, canine ehrlichiosis and canine anaplasmosis, while simultaneously testing for heartworm. After receiving USDA approval in 2006, the test is readily available to veterinary clinics throughout the country.

Lyme disease causes similar symptoms in both dogs and humans, including fatigue, fever, muscle or joint pain, and enlarged lymph nodes. The disease is often referred to as ďthe great imitatorďby doctors and veterinarians because its symptoms mimic many other diseases. This range of symptoms can also make Lyme disease difficult to diagnose from clinical signs alone, with some dogs displaying no visible symptoms for months.

As with Lyme disease, canine anaplasmosis and canine ehrlichiosis are often mistaken for other conditions and cannot be accurately diagnosed without a trip to the veterinarian.

Dr. Matt Ebertís practices veterinary medicine in the tick-endemic area, and researches canine tick-borne diseases.

Ebertís has been involved with SNAP 4Dx clinic trials and was shocked at the early results, which showed an alarming 40 percent of the dogs Ebertís examines testing positive for Lyme disease. Perhaps more troublesome than the extremely high incidence of Lyme disease Ebertís sees is that 50 percent of the dogs entering his clinic test positive for exposure to canine anaplasmosis.

Like Lyme disease, canine anaplasmosis is spread by infected deer ticks that feed on the blood of dogs. ďWhile Lyme disease continues to be a concern, the growing number of dogs entering my clinic with multiple tick-borne infections adds a new wrinkle to the situation, ďsaid Ebertís.

ďThere's really no way for pet owners to know what's wrong with their dogs without getting them tested. With this advanced testing, we're now able to quickly identify dogs that have become infected and work with pet owners to look at treatment options or further diagnoses.ď

Unfortunately, Ebertís has had more involvement with tick-borne illnesses than most veterinarians. Not only has one of his own dogs contracted multiple tick-borne diseases, he too has been infected with a disease from these tiny arachnids. In 2001, Ebertís became very ill with symptoms initially prompting doctors to diagnose the veterinarian with influenza.

After a few days of rest, his symptoms subsided, and Ebertís went back to work. Unlike the symptoms common


With most flu viruses, Ebertís' symptoms returned, leaving his doctors confused and the veterinarian hospitalized.

Ebertís' familiarity with canine tick-borne diseases, such as canine anaplasmosis, prompted him to suggest to his doctors that he could be suffering from human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE), the human form of canine anaplasmosis. The doctors agreed with Ebertís' self-diagnosis and quickly started the veterinarian on a successful treatment program.

Fortunately, Ebertís and his dogs are all healthy and doing well today.


If you have never had your dogs tested and you live in an area of ticks or even go to an area where they could be exposed.  I would suggest this testing to be done. I myself had 1 Lyme positive dog last year.  With a simple round of antibiotics she is doing well with no symptoms ever coming about. She has been retested and this time tested negative.


Thanks to Dr. Ebert as well for sharing this interesting information.

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