Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The Billion Dollar Lyme Disease Scam

An engorged adult deer tick is much smaller than a dog tick.

"Lyme disease vaccines and testing, as well as Lyme treatment of asymptomatic dogs, is a huge scam costing American dog owners hundreds of millions of dollars a year."

America is a huge country, and we are no longer a new one. With a population of well over 310 million people, and the modern historical time line going back more than 300 years, I think it's safe to say there have a few hundred million dogs in the U.S. over that time. And yet, Lyme disease was not diagnosed in humans until 1975, and was not diagnosed in dogs until 1984.

What does this suggest?

Well, for one thing, it suggests that Lyme disease may not be very common.

Which it isn't.

In fact, Lyme disease is very rare over most of the U.S., and the prevalence of the disease is heavily skewed to a few relatively small regions of the country (see map, above).

And while relatively few humans catch Lyme disease, dogs are even less likely to catch it.

The good news is that since 1984, when Lyme was first identified in dogs, a heck of a lot of stuff has been written about Lyme disease's prevalence, symptoms, epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment in dogs.

Most of this literature is marketing stuff cobbled up by drug companies trying to sell Lyme tests, Lyme vaccines, and Lyme cures, but some legitimate research on this disease has been done as well.

This legitimate research has, for the most part, shown that most of the "problems" associated with Lyme disease, other than leg lameness, joint stiffness, and lethargy, cannot be replicated in a laboratory setting in which dogs are intentionally infected with Lyme disease.

I could reference all of this literature, but it's not necessary, as the "Consensus Statement of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine on Lyme Disease" offers an excellent "best practices" paper as to what can and should be done regarding Lyme.

Read the whole thing if you want, but I will summarize -- in plain English -- the basics of what you need to know, with appropriate highlighted text to be found on the PDF:

  1. Lyme disease in dogs is very rare nationally, and Lyme disease itself is endemic to only a small portion of the U.S.

  2. It is much harder for a dog to catch Lyme disease than it is for a human.

  3. 95 percent of the dogs that catch Lyme from a tick are asymptomatic (no symptoms).

  4. An asymptomatic dog does not need to be tested for Lyme, as an asymptomatic dog does not need treatment, and treatment will not completely rid the dog of Lyme infection in any case.

  5. All Lyme tests and titers give false positives or otherwise offer up only meaningless information that tell you nothing about whether the dog actually has Lyme disease or will come down with it.

  6. A dog with symptoms of Lyme disease should not be tested for Lyme, as tests and titers do not prove that Lyme is the causal agent of any observed problem. The ONLY 100% indication that Lyme disease is a causal agent of a problem in a dog is if the dog responds to appropriate antibiotic treatment. Said treatment is cheaper than either a test for Lyme disease or an assay titer.

  7. The best treatment for Lyme disease is oral doxycycline (5 mg a pound) for five weeks. Longer treatment periods have not been shown to be therapeutic. Doxycycline is also an effective treatment for several other tick-borne diseases such as Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Note that neither doxy nor any other treatment will rid a dog of Lyme antibodies; they will remain in the dog forever, and repeated infection from another tick bite is always possible.

  8. Most dogs that come down with Lyme-related lameness, lethargy, or joint stiffness get dramatically better after 2-3 days worth of treatment with doxycycline. If so, continue doxycycline treatment for a full 5 weeks. In humans, long-term doxycylin treatment has not been shown to be more effective than placebos, and there is no evidence to suggest it as a sensible regime for dogs

  9. Lyme vaccines are more likely to do harm than good, and should NOT be given even in Lyme-endemic areas.

  10. Some dog owners and veterinarians are only too happy to blame other medical issues on Lyme disease. However, if your dog does not get better after a five-week treatment of doxycycline, the problem is probably something other than Lyme, such as an a congenital autoimmune disorder.

What's all this mean?

Boil it all down, and what you have is a simple fact: Lyme disease vaccines, testing, and medically unnecessary treatment of asymptomatic dogs is a huge scam costing American dog owners hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

As noted in my earlier post, you should say NO to Lyme disease vaccination and NO to Lyme testing. If your dog comes up lame or stiff, do nothing for two weeks; it's probably as simple as a sprain, bruise, or cut pad. If the dog does not get better, however, and no other problem seems evident, treat the dog with doxycycline that you have ordered on your own and without a prescription. If the dog dramatically improves in 2-3 days, then the issue is Lyme disease, and continue to treat with doxycycline for a full 5-week regime.

Bird-biotic doxycycline can be ordered from Amazon or Revival Animal Health, and contains a 100 mg dose of doxycycline, which is a perfect dose for a 20-pound terrier. Scale up or down for a larger or smaller dog, dosing 5 mg per pound of dog, twice a day (once every 12 hours).



Pishkeen said...

For whatever reason the amazon.com link isn't working, but for folks in Canada you can get fish doxy in the same dosage from amazon.ca:


boct said...

What is it with the human condition where it seems that some folks will fight with conclusiveness that their dog has symptoms and therefore indeed have the disease RATHER than objectively consider that their dog perhaps isn't in detrimental state. Which if statistics state as the truer case you would think that would be a sense of relief and all good..but alas almost as if it is some badge of honor that their dog is sick and they therefore endeavor towards making their dog a 'poster child' for the disease? Ahh, maybe I answered the ponder.

Always enjoy the music Patrick..thanks

PipedreamFarm said...

An earlier symptom of lyme (before lameness) is the lack of mental and physical stamina in a dog that did have this stamina. Unfortunately for most pet owners, this symptom will not be evident in most cases due to the lack of extensive exertion by these pets. It is the first symptom we see in working border collies. I have used this symptom to identify likely infections (3-4xs in my own dogs) which were confirmed by the response to treatment as described. The first few cases were corroborated and treatment progression was followed by the derided tests. Since Doxy is not without side effects in every dog, there is value in these tests for diagnosis confirmation prior to subject to dogs sensitive to the side effects of doxy.

Donald McCaig said...

Dear Patrick,
Lyme is so common in trialing Border Collies, it's the first suspect when a dog loses its keeness for the work. Some handlers routinely dose all their dogs with Doxy once a year.

Donald McCaig