Tick-borne diseases are found in all 50 states of the United States and are the most common vector-borne disease diagnosed in people in the US. The predominant disease is Lyme disease, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi and related species (sensu lato). Other important canine tick-borne diseases include those caused by Anaplasma platys, Anaplasma phagocytophilum (Anaplasmosis), Babesia canis, Babesia conradea and Babesia gibsonii (Babesiosis), and Ehrlichia canis, Ehrlichia chaffiensis and Ehrlichia ewingii (Ehrlichiosis).
Many of these diseases also affect people. Dogs can serve as sentinel species for human disease and there are many areas where the immune responses and disease outcomes are very similar in people and dogs, meaning that important lessons can be learned by sharing information between human and animal health (One Health).
The researchers will further investigate the dog’s immune system to determine which immune cells are responsible for the cure or creation of canine tick-borne disease. Through understanding which cells are responsible for causing disease, the goal is to then specifically target the molecules they produce using immunotherapy or immune modulation to improve treatment of tick-borne diseases in all dogs.
Christine Petersen, DVM, PhD
University of Iowa