Sudbury·Up North

6 cases of Lyme disease found in Manitoulin Island dogs

A veterinarian that works on Manitoulin Island says there have been six confirmed cases of Lyme disease in dogs since the spring, and she says that should serve as a warning to owners.

Instances of the disease found at clinics in Little Current and Mindemoya

Lyme disease, transmitted by black-legged, or deer ticks, has been confirmed in six cases of dogs on Manitoulin Island since the spring. (CDC)

A veterinarian that works on Manitoulin Island says there have been six confirmed cases of Lyme disease in dogs since the spring, and she says that should serve as a warning to owners.

Janice Mitchell, a veterinarian working at clinics in Little Current and Mindemoya where the discoveries were made, said, while it's fairly rare for a dog to develop the illness, humans are much more susceptible.

"It's more about warning owners that they need to be more concerned about it," she told CBC's Up North.

"Because it is something that in humans, they're 80 to 90 per cent more likely to develop Lyme disease, as oppose to our man's best friend."

Lyme disease is an infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. In Ontario, it's transmitted by black-legged ticks — also called deer ticks — when they suck on the blood of humans and other animals.

Dog owners should be checking their furry friends after any kind of activity outside in the bush or long grass, Mitchell said, adding that if a tick is removed from the dog within 16 to 24 hours, it's less likely to transmit Lyme disease.

Blood tests done to confirm cases

Animals that show up at Mitchell's clinics running a fever and displaying symptoms similar to arthritis — sore, stiff joints, for example — are given blood tests to check for Lyme disease, she said, especially if the dog is commonly outdoors.

"Blood testing is our best way to screen for this," Mitchell said.

She added that if Lyme disease is found, a cycle of common antibiotics often gets the job done.

With ticks being observed further and further north in Ontario, Mitchell said it's important to remain vigilant.

"The experts tell us they're on the move," she said of the small, blood sucking arachnids.

"We're living in close contact with deer, and climate change, I guess is another big concern because ... if we don't have all these cold days and we have warmer days occurring, then [it's] more likely to have the contact."

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