Lyme disease (or Borreliosis) is a bacterial disease of dogs and humans that is transmitted by tick bites. In people, Lyme is the most common tick-transmitted disease in the US, with over 25,000 cases in 2014. While most common in the northeastern coastal states and the upper Midwest, Lyme disease is moving into other regions of the U.S. and Canada. Dogs infected with Lyme disease rarely show signs of illness (typically lameness), but can be severe (e.g., kidney disease). Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Lyme disease in dogs are complicated by limited research and conflicting professional guidance. Current practices may unnecessarily place dogs at risk for illness and negative outcomes.
The investigators will follow a large group of dogs from different regions of the U.S. and Canada. During this period the investigators will determine how often healthy dogs test positive for Lyme disease (meaning they have been bitten by an infected tick) and identify how often they later develop a Lyme-related illness. The risks and benefits of management strategies for Lyme-positive dogs and obstacles to effective tick prevention will be determined to help clarify unmet pet owner education needs. These findings are likely to extend to better understanding of canine and human Lyme disease, and improve health outcomes. Collectively, this work will allow us to identify, define and improve upon best practices for prevention and control of Lyme disease in areas with different Lyme risks, ultimately improving the health of dogs and people.
Dr. Jason Stull, VMD, PhD
Ohio State University