Becoming Aware of Tick Borne Diseases
Ticks transfer bacterial infections to people, horses, & dogs, this is an absolute fact. Lyme Disease is the primary infection, however co-infections are often associated with the initial infection.
Ticks require a blood meal from a mammal in the Spring & Fall in order to morph to their next life cycle. Deer & mice are commonly seen as the primary reservoir for the disease. People, horses, & dogs can also be victims of ticks. The deer tick nymphs are about the size of a pin point, making them almost invisible. The adult deer tick is about the size of a sesame seed when it's engorged.
Because the tick nymph is so small you can NOT assume you or your horses have not ever been bitten. The first time I realized I had ticks on my hand it looked like I had a raspberry from scratching myself on something. I knew I hadn't scratched myself, and then I noticed the tiny, tiny bumps were moving............
The bacterium that causes Lyme disease is most closely related biologically to the spirochete that causes Syphilis.
For this reason it is highly probable that neurological symptoms will occur. As a matter of fact, left untreated Lyme disease can lead to insanity and occasionally death, just like Syphilis.
Co-infection with Lyme disease is common. Erlichiosis (aka Potomac Horse Fever), babesiosis, & several other bacterial infections must be considered.
Symptoms in horses tend to be vague, but most frequently involve a sudden change in the horse's personality, such as biting their handlers or becoming sensitive to girthing. Other symptoms can be lameness, back soreness, anorexia, and lethargy and / or low grade fever. In people you can expect a low grade fever often associated with flu like symptoms such as body aches, joint pain, and/or nausea. Sometimes you will have a bulls eye rash around the tick bite which means you HAVE been infected.
The primary problem with these tick borne diseases is that they are difficult & expensive to diagnose using traditional tests which include Western Blot, ELISA, & Titers. False negatives are frequent. While you're spending your time & money trying to obtain a positive identification on the disease the bacteria is rapidly reproducing in you or your horse's body. The longer the organism is allowed to reproduce the more treatment (antibiotics) will be required to kill the bacteria.
In general, if one member of your extended family has Lyme Disease it is reasonable to assume that other members of the human & animal family have also been exposed to the disease.
After many years of living with my own Lyme Disease & having my companion animals also infected I have learned that the best Lyme diagnosis is a clinical diagnosis. In general if you begin an antibiotic treatment you should expect to see BIG results within the first week. Occasionally a healing crisis will occur which is called a "Herxheimer Reaction", which is caused by the toxins being released into the blood as the bacteria are dying off. When this happens it is CRITICAL not to back off the antibiotics. This would cause the bacteria to develop resistance to the antibiotic which could mean a longer or stronger course of antibiotic. Left untreated, intravenous drug treatment is often required.
Not every vet or MD is Lyme literate. You will have to do some research to find one who is. Depending on where you live they can be few & far between. If you suspect you or one of you companion animals is sick DON'T GIVE UP until you find appropriate medical help! This bacterial infection will not go away on its own. It can ravage lives and is often misdiagnosed as auto-immune diseases such as RA, MS or Lupus in humans, or as degenerative joint disease in horses.
"Everything You Need to Know about Lyme Disease" is a book that belongs in every home today. This book documents extensive research into this 21st Century epidemic.
I personally believe there is a connection between tick borne diseases and chronic wasting in the human & deer population. Furthermore, could this be a source of BSE & CJ in the human population?
Please feel free to contact me with questions or for information. Lyme advocacy is one of my missions.