Category Archives: lyme disease


When you live in Pennsylvania, you are probably familiar with Lyme Disease, a common disease that is transmitted by ticks. However, there is a less familiar disease that can be transmitted to our pets. That disease is Anaplasma.

Anaplasma, like Lyme Disease, is a tick borne disease.

This means that certain types of ticks can infect our pets with the disease if infected. There are two types of Anaplasma: Anaplasma Phagocytophilum and Anaplasma Platys. A. Phagocytophilum is carried by the deer tick and the western black legged tick,which are the same ticks that carry Lyme Disease. This form of Anaplasma affects the white blood cells, causing loss of appetite, lethargy, lameness, neck pain and possible neurological symptoms. A. platys is carried by the brown dog tick. This form decreases the platelets, which are the cells that clot blood. Symptoms of this form of Anaplasma are nose bleeds and bruising. It can take 1-2 weeks to see symptoms after Anaplasmagetting bitten by an infected tick, but some dogs and cats can be infected without showing any signs of illness.

Anaplasma is extremely common in the northeastern United States, and Pennsylvania’s tick population is out of control. In 2016 the Companion Animal Parasite Council named PA as one of the few states where tick borne diseases, especially Anaplasma and Lyme disease, are rising significantly.

Diagnosis is made by a blood test that is run in our office and takes about 10 minutes. This test detects antibodies to the Anaplasma organism that have been made by your dog’s immune system. A positive test indicates that your dog has been exposed to Anaplasma; it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an active infection. Your veterinarian will determine if the infection is active and if treatment is needed. It is highly recommended to test yearly; the test also screens for heartworm disease, Lyme disease, and another tick borne disease called Ehrlichia. Since Anaplasma and Lyme can be carried by the same tick, it is possible to have been exposed to both diseases. Diagnosis is more difficult in cats. There are more sensitive tests that can be done at an outside lab.

If your dog or cat does become infected with Anaplasma, there is good news. The disease is treatable if caught early. Symptoms usually resolve within 48 hours after treatment begins. The treatment is a 30 day course of an antibiotic called Doxycycline.

Since you now know the causes and treatment of Anaplasma, the next question is how can you prevent your pet from contracting the disease. Keeping your pet on year-round tick prevention is the best way to protect your pet. There are many different preventives available. At the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County, we recommend the following:

Bravecto – a chewable tablet for dogs that kills fleas and ticks for up to 12 weeks. The medication in Bravecto is stored in your dog’s tissue right under the skin. When a flea or tick bites your dog, it ingests the medication and dies. This medication can be used in dogs 6 months of age and older.

Frontline Plus – a monthly topical treatment for dogs and cats. This medication is applied to your pet’s skin near the base of the neck. The medication is stored in the oil glands for 30 days and self-distributes to the hair and skin through the hair follicles. Fleas and ticks that come in contact with the hair and skin die – no biting is necessary.

Nexgard – a chewable tablet for dogs that kills fleas and ticks for up to 30 days. This medication works like Bravecto but is safe for puppies as young as 8 weeks.

Vectra 3D – a monthly topical treatment for dogs. This medication kills fleas and ticks through contact with the skin – no biting is necessary.

Checking your pets for ticks is a very important step to remember as well. Check for ticks between toes, under collars, behind ears, and in the armpit area. Check the body by running your hands through your pet’s coat, feeling for bumps. If you find an attached tick, you can remove it by grasping it close to the skin and pulling straight out. There are also “tick twisters,” which are handy tools to remove ticks. Submerge the tick in alcohol or flush it down the toilet.

Ask your veterinarian about keeping your pets safe from these serious diseases.

Understanding Tickborne Diseases

Understanding Tickborne Diseases

Tickborne diseases are becoming a serious problem in this country as people increasingly build homes in formerly uninhabited wilderness areas where ticks and their animal hosts live. Tickborne diseases can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Most people become infected through tick bites during the spring and summer months. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial disease transmitted by the dog tick, was first identified in 1896. It still exists, although now it can be easily treated. Since then, researchers have identified many new tickborne diseases. Tickborne diseases can be found throughout the United States. For example, Lyme disease, first discovered in Connecticut in the early 1970s, has since spread to every state except Hawaii. One of the newest tickborne diseases to be identified in the United States is called Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI). This disease has a bull’s-eye rash similar to that found in Lyme disease, which is caused by bacteria transmitted by the deer tick. Although researchers know that the lone star tick transmits the infectious agent that causes STARI, they do not yet know what microbe (germ) causes it. Ticks transmit ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis, both bacterial diseases. Babesiosis is caused by parasites carried by deer ticks. These diseases are found in several states. Tularemia, a less common tickborne bacterial disease, can be transmitted by ticks as well as other vectors (carriers) such as the deerfly. Public health experts are concerned that the bacterium that causes tularemia (Francisella tularensis) could be used as a weapon of bioterrorism. Tickborne disease can usually be prevented by avoiding places where ticks often live, such as dense woods and brushy areas. Using insect repellents containing DEET (for the skin) or permethrin (for clothes), wearing long pants and socks, performing tick checks, and promptly removing ticks also will help prevent infection from tickborne microbes. Scientists are searching for better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent tickborne diseases. They are also looking for ways to control the tick populations that transmit microbes. To learn more, go to:

What is Lyme Disease?

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks; laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well. To learn more, go to: