Sunday, June 17, 2012

lyme disease

So I am freaking myself over this tick on Shyloh and what better way to calm one's nerves than to Google Lyme disease in horses in Michigan. . .

Actually, for once, the inter-web made me feel a little better. What I learned in my research was that while Lyme disease has been diagnosed in horses, it is rare. Michigan has an abundance of ticks (and other bugs) this year due to the extremely mild winter. 

I think the tick that bit Shy was a Lone Star tick. I also found one of these on my barn jeans at my house a couple weeks ago. I am constantly checking me and my dogs for these dreaded creatures. 

Just for informational purposes, here are the symptoms of Lyme Disease:

• Fever (probably early infections) 
• Ill-defined, shifting lameness not explained by injury or level of work 
• Poor performance 
• Personality changes 
• Laminitis 

• Anterior uveitis (ERU/moonblindness-like eye changes) 

Today, our vet had to be called out to the barn for a possible emergency (everything turned out okay), so I had Dr. Romine take a look at the place where the tick bit Shy (it is redder now). He said it had ulcerated, most likely because ticks are dirty, nasty bugs. Dr. Romine told me to put some Betadine on it and keep it clean. I asked about drawing blood to test for Lyme disease. He said that one horse will be getting her test results back by Friday and another horse is getting retested, so wait and see if Lyme Disease has even come to our area yet. But keep an eye on her. So we will see. . .I am debating whether or not to take Shy to the show next weekend, just in case. Although Lyme disease is not transmittable from horse to horse, only tick to animal . . .I asked. 

I would not be so worried if the bite spot would scab over or something. It is red and raised and seems to get crusty on the edges, but it won't scab over. Shy is not at all bothered by it and lets me wash it and put cream on it.  But it does not look like the characteristic bulls-eye rash that is indicative of the disease.

The cure for Lyme disease is antibiotics, usually intravenous tetracycline or oral doxycycline. If Lyme disease is not treated, it can affect and damage the eyes, heart, kidneys and nervous system.

The good news from my research is that Lyme Disease is very rare in horses and in my area. I am hoping that the other two horses come back with negative tests, not just for me, but for them and their owners, too.

Informative Websites
A Practical Guide to Lyme Disease (Shy's bite area looks nothing like the photo)


  1. Don't be alarmed that the bite site isn't scabbing over. The ticks inject a substance to keep blood
    From coagulating so even when the tick has been removed, the bite site won't scab.

    1. I do remember the vet saying that the ticks inject an anti-coagulate into them now. Whew!

  2. I agree with hat Dreaming said about tick bites... Flurry picked one up on the trek and it left a huge hole which took ages to clear up. They are nasty little critters.
    You've still got plenty of time to decide whether to go to the show or not, & you can see how Shy seems during the week.

    1. That's the plan, if Shy seems fine, we will most likely go.
      Poor Flurry!

  3. Ticks are no big deal with horses, very common, and as Dreaming and Martine said, the bites don't scab over.

    I'd show!

  4. I'm sure she won't have LD, it is rare for it to happen and in our area especially. IF she does end up with it, there are ways to fix it and lots of info I can give you (I got it all in a round about way via my laminitis obsession) BUT I'm sure Shy is just fine! :) xo

    1. I hope! Just awaiting test results from 2 other horses at my barn, which is why I am on pins and needles over this!

  5. I hope everything is ok and it was an uninfected tick. We are lucky that we don't have ticks in my area (too dry), but they have lots at my brother's, so they are constantly checking their horses, dogs and children!

  6. Yep, don't panic over the tick. Both of my dogs have tick diseases. It sucks, but it can be treated with antibiotics. I'm sure Shy will be fine. :)

  7. I have Lyme. Chronic, late stage Lyme. Both my horses have Lyme as well. BOTH. Most information you are going to get about Lyme is not correct. Watch your baby for any signs. My mare was just behavioral and my Gelding had more alarming neurological issues. If you decide to test make sure it is the Western Blot. ILADS is the best place to learn more about Lyme and get correct information. Horses are not much different than we are when it comes to Lyme. Best of Luck.

  8. Lyme is not rare. Both my horses have Lyme and my vet said it is very, very prevalent. Lyme is everywhere now. My Andalusian is from NC and my mare from Germany. Lyme is epidemic. (Lyme disease is diagnosed by physicians at rates that vary from 10 to 50 times higher than what public health statistics show.) I have had Lyme since '89. I am very, very ill. My Andalusian's Lyme showed up after he had his hocks injected. Since he had a steroid injected with everything else his immune system responded by getting depressed and the Spirochete's went wild. His showed up as a neurological issue. My mare just could not stand to be brushed or touched (which is a common symptom). Both their personalities changed too. I am sure your gelding will be fine but do not underestimate the prevalence. As for antibiotics, they only really work if you catch the disease withing the first six weeks. Any chronic Lyme does NOT respond well to antibiotics. Other long term methods have to used. Here is the best site to learn more about Lyme.
    Best of luck to you.


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