I’m Ticked Off About Ticks

Is this the Culprit?
Adult Female Deer Tick: Is this the Culprit?

Kroni’s initial blood work came back yesterday afternoon and the tentative diagnosis is either Lyme or Ehrlicchia, both diseases carried by ticks. That’s the second time this week one of my animals has been infected by one of these tiny blood suckers and frankly, I’m tired of it. Actually, my strong anti-tick feeling surfaced early this summer when my daughter was diagnosed with Lyme. If the disease wasn’t bad enough, the doxy was worse. She had such a severe reaction to the sun after taking the medication that her hands swelled up and after minimal exposure (wearing SPF 70) she turned lobster red.

Ticks have been a real problem in New England this fall. Blame it onĀ  last year’s warm winter; the ever-increasing population of white-tailed dear; or reforestation, but tick populations are larger than ever before and the incidence of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases is escalating. I read somewhere that 90% of all cases of Lyme are found in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York. Nothing like living in the epicenter of a tick epidemic.

Whether or not horses can get Lyme disease is still debated by some veterinarians. However, there’s no denying that my horse is quite ill. He also seems to be responding to the antibiotics (at least it’s controlling his fever) which leads me to believe that the underlying cause is bacterial, rather than viral. It’s certainly true that in New England most horses have been exposed to Lyme and a large proportion of them will show

It’s daunting to give a horse 90 pills a day and even more distressing when you start to add up the cost. At this point, we don’t even know if the diagnosis is correct, but since he seems to be responding to the antibiotics, I was loathe to stop them. If he has Lyme, we’re looking at six weeks of treatment (that’s 3,780 pills!). Ehrlicchia requires only three weeks of meds (a mere 1,890 pills). Luckily, Kroni seems not to notice when they are mixed into his feed. He’s gobbled them right up without complaint. I know other people who have had to grind the pills, mix them with a liquid and syringe them into their horses mouths. That generally means that a good percentage of the medication ends up either all over you, or spit out onto the barn floor.

Certainly the meds are keeping his fever down. I’ve also noticed that his colic symptoms are mostly gone. What remains is the body stiffness, some of the uncoordination and the depression. He is brighter — he nickers now when he sees me coming into the barn and called for Freedom when I took him out for a ride this morning, but he’s still spending the majority of his time standing in his stall looking miserable.

I just hope that he looks better in the morning.

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