Canine Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosis, is a bacterial disease transmitted by the bite of an infectedIxodes tick harboring Borrelia burgdorferi, a corkscrew-shaped bacterium. The disease is not passed directly from animal to animal or from dogs to people.
The disease is named after the town of Lyme, CT, where a number of cases in people were identified in 1975. Although it was determined that Lyme disease was a tick-borne disease in 1978, the cause of the disease remained a mystery until 1981, when Borrelia burgdorferi was identified by Willy Burgdorfer. Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-borne diseases in the northern hemisphere.
Early signs of Lyme disease in dogs usually include fever, depression, and listlessness. Dogs can have the characteristic circular skin rash seen in people, but it is often missed because of their hair coat. If the disease is not treated, later signs may involve the joints and kidneys and less commonly heart and central nervous system. In most cases, the infection and its signs can be controlled by antibiotics, especially if treatment is started early. Delayed or inadequate treatment can lead to the more serious signs, which are often disabling and difficult to treat.
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