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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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Endangered turtle born at London Zoo

News Story 1
 An endangered spiny hill turtle has become the first of its kind to hatch at ZSL London Zoo - just in time for World Turtle Day (23 May).

Zookeepers filmed the moment the turtle came out of its shell on a time lapse camera, after keeping a watchful eye on the egg during its 136 day incubation period.

The turtle weighed a tiny 33g at birth and measured just 61mm, although it will eventually grow to around 27cm in size. 

News Shorts
Melissa Donald elected president of BVA Scottish Branch

RCVS Council member Melissa Donald has been elected for a two-year term as president of BVA’s Scottish Branch. She said she was “honoured” to be elected and hopes to provide a strong voice for veterinary surgeons, particularly at a national level. One of her first tasks will be to give evidence to the Scottish government on tail shortening of dogs, before parliament votes on whether to change the current legislation.

Melissa graduated from Glasgow veterinary school and worked as a production animal vet at Iowa State University, USA, for three years, before returning to Ayrshire to work in mixed practice. She then spent 25 years developing a small animal practice with her husband and has been involved with the BVA for many years. Recently, she took the decision to step back from clinical practice and currently runs a smallholding in the Ayrshire Hills.