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US map shows at-risk areas for Lyme disease
"Our research team has growing evidence that the relationship between risk of canine infection and human disease is strong."
Research ‘could help to predict human cases’

A map showing the most at-risk areas for Lyme disease infections in dogs could help to predict cases in humans, US scientists have said.

New research published in the PLOS ONE journal predicts the prevalence of canine Lyme disease in the 48 contiguous US states. It is hoped the forecast map will help to improve patient care for both humans and dogs.

Ticks that carry the disease-causing bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, were once thought to be present only in northern parts of the US. However, recent research shows they are now in half of US counties, including in the southern states.

Initial symptoms of Lyme disease are ‘flu-like’ but if left untreated can cause long-term complications of the heart, nervous system and muscles.

Researchers studied nearly 12 million B. burgdorferi antibody test results from 2011-15, alongside factors associated with Lyme disease, such as forestation, surface water area, temperature, population density and median household income.

Michael Yabsley, a parasitologist at the University of Georgia, explained: “Dogs really are the canary in the coal mine for human infection. Our research team has growing evidence that the relationship between risk of canine infection and human disease is strong.

“Because dogs are being tested for exposure during annual exams, these data are available on a national scale, something that is difficult to achieve when studying the ticks and environment directly.”

The researchers are expanding their analysis and plan to release further data on the relationship between human and canine disease later this year.

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Scheme to protect wildlife and reduce flooding

News Story 1
 Natural England has announced a new scheme to improve flood protection, boost wildlife and create 160 hectares of new saltmarsh. The £6 million scheme in Lancashire will effectively unite the RSPB’s Hesketh Out Marsh Reserve and Natural England’s Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve. The completed reserve will be the largest site of its kind in the north of England. 

News Shorts
Welfare event to discuss ethical dilemmas faced by vets

Students and ethics experts will host an event on the difficult moral challenges facing vets. Ethical issues, such as euthanasia and breeding animals for certain physical traits, will be discussed by prominent speakers including TV vet Emma Milne and RSPCA chief vet James Yeates. Other topics will include how to tackle suspected animal abuse and the extent of surgical intervention.

The conference will look at how these dilemmas affect the wellbeing of vets, and explore how to better prepare veterinary students for work. It will be held at the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus from 30 September - 1 October 2017. Tickets can be purchased here.