It seems like the incidence of Lyme Disease (Borrelliosis) (LD) and other tick born infections continues to rise and are flourishing this autumn. I hear from clients about how their horses, dogs as well as themselves are just getting covered in ticks more than ever this season. Tick born diseases have been increasing in the northeast and throughout North America for more than two decades. In 1992, I published on one hundred horses that I diagnosed with Equine Lyme Disease based on my acupuncture physical evaluation. I correlated my clinical findings with the horses laboratory diagnostic tests, response to antibiotic treatment as well as their behavioral history. It seemed that there was about an 82% correlation of my physical examination with response to antibiotics and the laboratory tests. I have diagnosed hundreds of horses and dogs with Lyme disease since then in the past two decades. If left untreated it can cause severe debilitating disease and even death. If not treated appropriately and quickly, it is not uncommon to see it reoccur and become a chronic disease with potentially devastating consequences.
Lyme Disease can be ubiquitous and quite challenging to diagnose. It has commonly been termed “the great imitator” since it can mimic so many other common conditions. Whenever I lecture on LD, I state that it is both overdiagnosed and underdiagnosed. In the past, it had only been considered part of a differential diagnosis if classic signs such as an acute onset of swollen joints and a fever were evident. Clinically, I have found that it is not uncommon that the first signs may actually manifest as various sudden behavioral aberrations due to an immune mediated myofascial inflammatory reaction to the spirochaete. In horses, some of the first signs that my clients and I notice are a sudden reticence to being touched, groomed, being saddled up or ridden. The horses may occasionally become aggressive to people when being touched or handled in anyway. At this point, results from diagnostic blood tests may be negative since it is too early to develop a blood titer. Unfortunately, too many veterinarians still base their diagnosis solely on the blood tests (Elisa and Western Blot blood tests) despite the reminders by the laboratories that they are not definitively diagnostic. There is rarely one specific sign that is definitely diagnostic for just Lyme disease. I use a checklist of criteria to decide if I think Lyme disease may be the cause of the animals signs. (more…)