If warm weather persists through November or December, as some have predicted, the scourge of ticks will likewise continue
Alexandria, VA (PRWEB) August 30, 2012
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases. (http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/prev/on_pets.html) Importantly, dogs can be a vehicle for transferring ticks to humans. If dog owners share beds and couches with their pets, they may increase the risk of tick transfer and subsequent disease. The result of tick bites can be Lyme disease and other serious illnesses in both dogs and humans. More than 22,500 confirmed and 7,500 probable cases of Lyme disease were reported to the CDC in 2010 (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/lyme/). As decribed on the CDC web site, Lyme disease can manifest in humans with a red rash and a range of flu-like symptoms, including fever, joint pain, and general body aches. Using an indoor dog potty is one way to help address tick-borne illnesses, says Andrew Feld, whose company, Fresh Patch, ships dirt-free, real-grass dog potties throughout the continental United States. An indoor dog potty can reduce a dog’s exposure to outdoor areas where disease-causing ticks thrive.
Feld notes that last year’s mild winter--together with an extended summer heat wave--may lengthen the tick season in many states, especially in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic areas. According to the CDC, in 2010, 94% of Lyme disease cases were reported from 12 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. (http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/index.html)
“Dog owners who are accustomed to seasonal changes in their states may mistakenly think that the onset of Fall on the calendar automatically means the end of tick season,” says Feld. “However, if warm weather persists through November or December, as some have predicted, the scourge of ticks will likewise continue. Because ticks lurk in high grass and elsewhere outside the home, the use of an indoor dog potty can be an important adjunct to dog-walking.”
The CDC suggests that dog owners check their pets daily for ticks, especially after spending time outdoors, and remove any ticks immediately. The agency also recommends that dog owners ask their vets to conduct a tick check each time a dog is examined, discuss the tick-borne diseases most prevalent locally, and recommend appropriate medications to prevent ticks in dogs. Feld says that, when walking a dog outdoors, it is imperative to stay on pavement or in the middle of trails as much as possible. Owners need to restrain dogs from romping not only in the tall grass well-known to harbor ticks, but also from rummaging around in shrubs and leaves.
The CDC suggests several ways that people can prevent tick bites, including the avoidance of known tick havens, frequent skin checks for ticks, and considering the use of tick repellents. By showering within two hours after coming indoors, people can better identify ticks and wash them away before they have time to burrow deeply into the skin. Other ways to prevent human tick bites include checking, washing and machine-drying garments and gear worn outside, and keeping the backyard free of tick lairs.
In April 2012, a Tick-Borne Disease Alliance was formed to promote public awareness, education and other efforts to combat these diseases, including Lyme disease. One of the Alliance’s goals is to develop a sensitive, specific and reliable diagnostic test for Lyme disease because current diagnostic tools have not proven to be 100% reliable and, at present, there are no vaccines to prevent Lyme disease or co-infections in the United States.
“The disease-causing potential of ticks should be underscored along with the current attention to mosquitoes that cause West Nile Virus,” says Feld. Lyme disease is the leading tick-borne illness in this country. It can be life-threatening to dogs, whose symptoms, such as loss of appetite, may not appear for several weeks following a tick bite. In humans, Lyme disease can lead to joint and heart problems, as well as to neurologic complications. While there are ways to treat the disease in both dogs and humans with prescribed antibiotics, the first course of action is clearly to prevent tick bites from ever happening.” Feld hopes that his product, Fresh Patch, can contribute to this effort by reducing the exposure of dogs to the insidious reach of ticks.