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Parasites are a common part of pet ownership. Thankfully, they are something that can be avoided thanks to the growing number of preventative treatments now available. Ticks and fleas spread disease, but by following a strict schedule of preventative treatment recommended by our Jacksonville veterinarian, you can spare your pet the unpleasantness of being infected by the following infections.
Tapeworms are an internal parasite that set up home in the intestines of your dog or cat. They can also affect humans, primarily children. Tapeworms are spread when infected fleas are accidentally ingested. Symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and you may be able to spot segments of the worms in stools which look like grains of rice or cucumber seeds.
Tapeworm infections occur across the United States and can be treated using oral medications. However, as pets do not have the same degree of hygiene as we do, re-infection can be common.
While rats are the primary carrier of this disease, any fleas that may have come into contact with an infected rat can also become capable of spreading it. Fleas then bite a host and pass the disease into their bloodstream. It usually only affects humans and symptoms include headache, nausea, fever and aching. Five or so days after being infected, you may experience a rash on your abdomen and back that spreads to your arms and legs.
Cases of murine typhus are usually only seen in hot, humid States such as Texas and Southern California. Treatment is provided it the form of antibiotics, and swift diagnosis and administration of medication can ensure a faster recovery.
Ticks are well known for spreading Lyme disease, one of the most common tick-borne diseases in the world. The actual bacteria that causes Lyme disease is called Borrelia Burgdorferi and is transmitted by hard-shelled deer ticks that feed slowly and pass the infection into your pet two or three days after beginning their meal. Removing these ticks quickly could prevent your pet from being infected.
Pets who have Lyme disease walk stiffly, may have difficulty breathing, a lack of appetite, fever and be sensitive to touch. Humans can also be affected by Lyme disease and may show signs including severe headache and neck stiffness, rashes, joint pain and swelling and facial palsy.
Lyme disease has been reported throughout the United States, but it seems to be most prevalent in the Atlantic Seaboard, Pacific Coastal and upper MidWestern States. Antibiotics are the only way to treat the disease, and sometimes anti-inflammatories are also prescribed.
This bacterial disease, sometimes known as RMSF, is transmitted by various ticks including the American dog tick, wood tick and brown dog tick. When the tick bites into your pet it transfers some of the infectious bacteria into her. While humans can’t get RMSF from their pet, they too may be bitten by an infected tick.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of this disease are vague and non-specific and can include muscle and joint pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhea, and swelling of the face or legs. Humans with RMSF may have a high fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and confusion or other neurological changes. A red, non-itchy rash may also develop 3-4 days after the symptoms begin. Left untreated it can cause permanent damage to your body.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever has been seen in different states across America, but it more common in areas where the aforementioned ticks are prevalent. Treatment for both humans and pets involves a course of antibiotics.
This bacterial tick-borne disease comes in two forms. The first infects your pet’s platelets, and the second infects her white blood cells. The latter can also affect humans who are bitten by the ticks that transmit this unpleasant disease. The platelet-attacking form is carried by the brown dog tick, while the variety that attacks white blood cells is spread by the western black-legged tick and the deer tick.
The symptoms of anaplasmosis usually appear several weeks after your pet has been bitten and may vary depending on which form of the disease they have been infected with. Typical indicators could include:
- Lameness and joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting and diarrhea
If your pet has the platelet form of anaplasmosis, she may present with bruising and red splotches on her body.
Anaplasmosis appears throughout many parts of the U.S. and is treated using a 30-day course of antibiotics. Most pets make a full recovery.
Tick paralysis is the only tick-borne disease that is not actually caused by an infectious organism. Instead, it is a reaction to a potent neurotoxin that is found in the tick’s saliva. This toxin targets your pet’s central nervous system and prevents voluntary movement. In rare cases, human children and young people may also be affected. Tick paralysis can be caused by the Rocky Mountain wood tick, American dog tick, Deer tick and the Lone Star tick.
Symptoms occur around 6-9 days after the tick has attached itself and can include partial paralysis, poor reflexes, rapid heart rate, respiratory distress, weakness and difficulty eating. Removing the offending tick usually causes symptoms to disappear, but if the tick is not removed, the condition can be fatal. Other medications may be needed to counteract damage to your pet’s body and to enable her to make a full recovery.
If you would like further information about flea and tick-borne diseases, or if you would like to speak to us, your veterinarian in Jacksonville, to discuss a schedule of preventative care for your pet, we would be delighted to assist you. Please call Herschel Animal Hospital and our team is ready and waiting for your call.