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This was posted by a vet who does flyball and agility with her dogs....Regions 9 and 13 ranges from Pennsylvania to South Carolina I believe with states on the outskirts (New England area)....but the problem seems to be in Virginia right now...and a member from my flyball team recently spoke with someone whose dog was diagnosed with lyme disease...


Just a word of warning to folks in Region 9 and 13:


Two agility dogs from Virginia were recently diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Both of these dogs were exhibiting similarly vague symptoms -- they just weren't running quite as fast or enthusiastically this past weekend.


These dogs are from opposite corners of the state, but have recently attended at least one and possibly two of the same trials (in Lynchburg and Leesburg). It seems likely that they may have been bitten by ticks carrying this disease at an agility trial. Fortunately both owners took the advice to have their dogs checked out by a vet and had tick titers performed, so they are both currently on treatment and should be on the road to recovery.


Signs of RMSF can be relatively subtle and vague, and sometimes the disease can be hard to diagnose. Most commonly seen are fever, lethargy, "soreness" which sometimes manifests as lameness or reluctance to run/play. Other signs can be more serious, such as unusual bruising, coughing, neurological signs, etc. If your dog has any of these signs, or is just "not acting right", you should consider getting it in for a thorough physical and possibly tick-borne disease titers. If you were at either of these agility trials, you should advise your veterinarian that other dogs at the same location have tested positive for RMSF.


Good tick control can usually prevent tick-borne diseases in dogs. If you're concerned, talk to your veterinarian about tick control products and strategies.


RMSF is transmissible to people not just through tick bites, but also by handling ticks that are in the process of transmitting the disease to dogs (i.e., removing ticks from dogs). This is why it is recommended to remove ticks from dogs using tweezers or other devices -- to prevent contact with infected tick secretions. I am not a human doctor, but I understand that clinical signs of RMSF in people are similar to those in dogs.


If you are worried about your own clinical signs, contact a physician for further advice.


Hopefully this warning will also appear on the agility listserver -- feel free to cross post to other lists that might be appropriate.


Lynda Oleksuk, DVM


Please take Lynda's words of warning to heart.



Centreville, VA

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