Lyme and Lepto

I went to a seminar sponsored by the Delaware Valley Academy of Veterinary Medicine last week. The academy sponsors six hour seminars, seven times per year. I go to most of them. This past week was a speaker I had heard several times before over the years…..Dr Richard Goldstein. He is an expert on infectious diseases in companion animals. As far as Lyme disease and leptospirosis are concerned……he is THE man.

I was particularly interested in these topics for three reasons. One is that they are the two fastest growing infectious diseases in dogs in the country. Two is that the prevalence of Lyme disease in Schuylkill County is high and three is the difficulty in diagnosing leptospirosis.
Lyme disease is a common diagnosis in my practice. I can pretty much assume if a dog is not properly vaccinated against it, they will more than likely have it. According to Dr Goldstein, the newer vaccines are so good that all dogs should be considered a candidate for vaccination. I routinely recommend all Schuylkill County dogs get the vaccine. While no vaccine is perfect, it goes a long way to keeping dogs healthy. I did learn something I had not heard before…. in a vaccinated dog, the most common reason that I will find a vaccine break ( meaning they get Lyme despite the vaccine) is an overwhelming tick burden. Therefore, good year round tick control is imperative to preventing Lyme disease along with vaccination.

Lyme was the morning topic for the seminar.The afternoon covered leptospirosis. As a former big wig at the Animal Medical Center in NYC, Dr Goldstein routinely diagnosed lepto due to the rodent burden in the city. He stated it was everywhere, as rats and mice urinate on the ground, on concrete and other places and dogs walk through it spreading the disease. The most difficult issue with lepto was the lack of quality tests to diagnose it. I learned about a new test that is available for use in a hospital that is fast and accurate. Not only will this help with accurate diagnosis, it will speed up the administration of treatment. Since this disease can be spread to owners, diagnosis and prompt treatment are especially important.

Vaccination is also available for leptospirosis. In this case as well, the newer vaccines are better than the older ones. I make every effort to make sure my patients receive the best vaccines available. My dogs get the same vaccines I give to my patients. There are definitely cheaper vaccines available; but they aren’t as safe or as good. Dr Goldstein is a proponent of vaccinating every dog against leptospirosis.

Next month I will attend a seminar on gastrointestinal disease. Nothing like a huge room full of veterinarians munching on lunch learning about diarrhea and vomiting.