Written by Joyce Harman, DVM
Lyme is constantly on my mind here in Virginia as spring begins and I start finding ticks. Every year we learn more about it, yet I keep hearing the same information: the ticks have to be on for 24-48 hours (reality–just have to bite) and that Lyme does not exist in my area (guess what–now birds have been shown to carry it and they fly a long way). So it's important to stay Lyme-aware and keep up with the latest information. Here is a quick rundown of Lyme facts. Be safe out there and enjoy the spring weather.
- The Lyme spirochete (Borrelia burgdorferi) is a corkscrew-shaped bacteria
- The life cycle involves various tick species involved depending on the location
- Hosts include many small mammals: white-footed mouse (northeast) to the chipmunk, hedgehog, squirrels and rats, along with humans and dogs
- Birds are identified now as carriers, and they travel far, spreading Lyme
- Fleas, spiders, mosquitoes, and mites are also possible parts of the life cycle, though the available research has not defined their exact role
- The tiny nymph stage ticks are the source of most infections while the adult tick, which is a little larger and easier to see, may be less important but still potentially infective
- It’s outer surface protein adapts to the hosts own immune system
Symptoms and diagnosis
- Most common sign subtle variable lameness or arthritis
- Other signs: anterior uveitis, neurologic signs, low grade fever, sensitivity to touch, lameness, weight loss, tremors, neck pain, lethargy and laminitis
- Almost always usually some degree of behavior change, from depressed to violently spooky
- Laboratory diagnosis can be inconclusive, but can be helpful
- No magic bullet in treating chronic LD cases. Best is a combination, with emphasis on the immune system
- Antibiotics can be useful especially in a freshly diagnosed horse
- Western or Chinese herbal preparations can be effective for immune and pathogen treatment and for prevention
- Herbal and antibiotic therapy should be rotated at least monthly to avoid resistance
- Probiotics are an absolute necessity and should continue to be fed for many months after antibiotic therapy is finished.
- Vitamin C for the immune system and the collagen. (4-6 grams twice a day).
- Noni fruit leather is an herb that supports the immune system and has excellent anti-inflammatory properties.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: anti-inflammatory, support the immune system–whole flaxseed, hemp or Chia seeds, or Omega 3 oils
- Medicinal mushrooms support the immune system
- Joint supplements are important include glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, glycosaminoglycans, herbal preparations.
- Hemp with cannabinoids (CBD) in oil or powder form support the immune system, support healthy joint function,
- Homeopathics can be used based on symptoms
- Acupuncture is excellent for pain control, immune stimulation
- Avoid stress or support the horse with adaptogenic herbs during stress
- Use care with immune system stress, including vaccination
- Topical essential oils and various insect repellant sprays need to be applied frequently
- Slippery sprays (Tick-Slick) keeps ticks from biting
- Long term immune and stress support prevent recurrences and help healing
Joy, Ticks-Off can be applied around the sheath and udder areas safely. The concentrate is on sale here:
Thanks for the info, Dr. Harman. Is the Tick-Slick ok to use around the sheath and udder areas? That’s where my horses are most attacked by ticks.