Lyme Disease

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Post by Sunny Admin on Sat Feb 20, 2010 4:23 pm

Hi Dr. Pike,

I live in Northern VA near the Blue Ridge Mountains and Lyme Diseasein horses seems to be on the rise. I've been told it's tough to pick up any symptoms and the antibiotic dosing could be a life long issue at a high expense. Following a ride in the State Forrest near here, I spent an hour pulling an incredible amount of ticks off of my was awful. I felt terrible and was naturally concerned I may have missed that one deer tick carrying the disease which is very common here. My questions:

1- I've heard some people are taking the tick repelling products for dogs and using it on their that safe? My instincts say that's not a good idea, betting that the size of the dosage a person applies could be toxic. What say you?

2- Is there a Lyme disease vaccine in testing phase for equines?


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Lyme Disease Empty Re: Lyme Disease

Post by Dr. Daniel Pike on Sat Feb 20, 2010 6:25 pm


Very good question! Lyme Disease is a disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and carried by the Ixodes tick, commonly referred to as the Deer Tick. The largest concentration of these ticks are found in the upper east coast, from New Jersey northward, but some populations may be seen along the east coast and into the southeast. Lyme disease can be a very difficult disease to diagnose, as it is also known as the 'Great Imitator' and although lifelong medication is rarely indicated, it can be troublesome to treat. So, as you mentioned, prevention of tick infestation is the primary route to disease prevention.

There are several products out there that work pretty well, especially if used sporadically, ie: when going on a trail ride etc... Frontline spray, a topical insectide for dogs may prove very useful to spray on your horses legs prior to riding. It comes pre-packaged in a conventient spray bottle that makes application relatively easy. My favorite drug for treatment of tick infestations, especially ticks in ears, is called CATRON. It is a screw worm spray labelled for use in cattle. Unfortunately, it is an aerosol foam that many horses may not be too fond of; however, you can sray the aerosol foam on a paper towel or cotton and then wipe your horse down, and I would also apply it to the inside of the ear, asthis is a great hideout for ticks. This drug has an alcohol base, so it evaporates pretty quickly, so there is less risk for ingestion. These would be my two choices as far a pre-treatment topical goes. As withe any topical insecticides, I think it is a good idea to wash the excess off after a trail ride to prevent prolonged contact and ingestion, as any insecticide can be toxic with high level of exposure and ingestion. Post-exposure treatment is also a viable option as well, and for this I would recommend an over the counter flea and tick shampoo for dogs. Most of these contain either permethrin or pyrethrins, which is the same chemical used in most flysprays, and when used in the shampoo base, do a good job of killing the ticks you may not see. As mentioned before, just be sure to rinse thoroughly after application.

As far an equine vaccine for Lyme disease goes, there is currently not one commercially available, and not in production to my knowledge. I would doubt that we will see one commmercially made any time real soon, as the overall economic and public health impact of LD is still relatively low. There has been a study done in horses using the canine vaccine that showed relatively good efficacy. Safety studies have not been performed and this would be an extra-labe use of the vaccine, so it would be prudent to discuss this with your veterinarian in your particular area before going this route. If infestations are extremely high, or the prevalence of LD is high in your area, this may be a viable option.

Good luck and hope your future rides will be tick-free!!

Daniel R Pike DVM
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