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CASE 1: ZOLA

Diagnosis and treatment for a symptomatic dog that tested positive for Lyme disease.

The following case is taken from actual medical records. Names, photographs, and minor details have been changed to maintain client-patient confidentiality.

ZOLA, A 6-MONTH-OLD SPAYED FEMALE LAB MIX BREED

Zola, a 6-month-old spayed female lab mix breed dog, was adopted from a shelter and presented for examination on January 2 at a hospital in Minnesota. The owner reported that the dog had kennel cough, but it was resolving well with no medications. Otherwise, Zola appeared healthy.

Six days later on January 8, Zola was examined for a 2-day history of lethargy, limping, and anorexia. Both carpal joints and elbows were swollen and painful on flexion; the right shoulder was painful on extension. Exam results (HR=120, RR=16, T=102.6) were consistent with polyarthropathy and mild fever.

A CBC and profile were performed, and both tests were within normal limits, as were thoracic radiographs for pneumonia.

Because Minnesota is endemic for tick-borne diseases, the dog was screened with the IDEXX SNAP® 4Dx® for Lyme disease and anaplasmosis. Zola tested positive for Borrelia burgdorferi infection. Zola was likely infected months previously because the last ticks in Minnesota were seen in November. Her recent change of environment and kennel cough were likely triggers for clinical Lyme disease because many tick-borne infections manifest after a dog gets other infections or is stressed.

TREATMENT RESULTS

  • Zola was started on doxycycline 10 mg/kg BID for 30 days. (Amoxicillin 20 mg/kg TID for 30 days would have been an alternative.)
  • Two weeks after starting antibiotic therapy, the dog was vaccinated with a Lyme vaccine, a protocol Zola's veterinarian recommends.
  • A quantitative C6 test was submitted. Her level was 40 units/L.
  • Retesting was recommended at 6 months with a goal of 50% decrease of the initial level.
  • Monitoring the quantitative C6 level will reveal if Zola becomes reinfected or has a persistent active infection.
  • Zola improved in 24 hours and has been healthy since.


THE CASE DEMONSTRATES THAT:

  • Annual screening for Lyme disease is important, whether the dog is symptomatic or asymptomatic.
  • A Lyme-positive test can confirm a diagnosis based on presenting signs.
  • Treatment is clearly indicated for a positive, symptomatic dog.
  • Lyme vaccination should be given at the discretion of the veterinarian after antibiotic therapy to prevent future infection.
  • Monitor for the quantitative C6 level annually to make sure the infection is under control.
  • Most dogs will have a lifelong C6 titer even if the infection is under control.


PREVENTING LYME DISEASE

  • Zola's veterinarian in Minnesota recommends the Lyme vaccine to every dog that is seen in the clinic.
  • Zola received the Lyme vaccine 2 weeks after starting antibiotic therapy.

CANINE RISK FACTORS


Learn the facts about how to assess risk by geography and exposure to deer ticks.


PREVENTION


Lyme Disease is largely preventable through tick control and vaccination. Get important details.


CASE STUDIES


Read about real dogs that were diagnosed with Lyme disease.