Tick-borne encephalitis in dogs: symptoms, signs
Encephalitis in dogs is a viral disease, the causative agent of which is transmitted by the bites of an ixodic tick. Characterized by damage to the brain and spinal cord, the central nervous system. It manifests itself in the form of fever, and in the last stages leads to complete paralysis of the animal. In advanced stages, it rarely treats and almost always leads to the death or lulling of a pet.
Areas of outbreaks
Tick-borne encephalitis in dogs was first found in the Far East, in the taiga region. At present, the centers of spread of the disease are the forests of Russia (Kaliningrad region, Sakhalin), Ukraine (Transcarpathia), Belarus (in all areas). Also ticks mites live in Estonia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan.
The carriers of the virus can be both wild forest vertebrates and arthropods. On small rodents there is a multiplication of mites, the larvae of which can parasitize on their skin for a long time. Cases of diseases are increasingly recorded in Australia, Hungary, China, Sweden, Finland.
About 14 species of ixodid ticks are carriers of the encephalitis virus (Ix. Ricinus, Ix. Trianguliceps, Ix. Gibbosus, Haemaphysalis japonica, Dermatocentor silvarum). The most dangerous species that represent epidemiological significance and cause encephalitis in dogs are Ix. Persulcatus, inhabiting Asia, and also Ix. Ricinus, living mainly in European countries.
Propagation of the virus in the blood of the mite
Mites are not without reason vectors of the disease, because it is in their body that the virus multiplies most intensively, as it is a favorable environment for their life. At the expiration of a month after infection of the tick, a concentration of the pathogen is already 1000 times higher in the blood. But already on the 6th day the virus penetrates into all the organs of the insect. The greatest number of viruses accumulates in the salivary glands, around the gonads and in the intestine. Ticks can transmit the virus to their offspring.
Dogs are ill with encephalitis, getting infected from tick bites that feed on the blood of vertebrates. It is from the salivary glands that the virus easily enters the blood, causing inflammation. Attacks on animals and people are only adults.
Danger of meeting a tick
Ticks can be found on a walk with a dog: on the fringes of the forest, glades, along the trails. Outbreaks of diseases are fixed in the warm season, when insect activity is increased.
The saliva of the bloodsucker contains an analgesic substance, so the dog does not feel a bite, and the tick can safely eat 4-6 days before it is found. But even with a short-term suction, the virus can penetrate into the bloodstream. But the main cause of the disease are numerous bites at once several ticks. Within an hour after sucking in the saliva of the bloodsucker, the same concentration of the virus is formed, as in all of his body.
Another extremely unpleasant moment is that it is very difficult to notice an insect in dogs with long and thick hair, since the ability of the tick to climb into the most secluded corners is phenomenal.
Encephalitis in dogs: symptoms
Symptoms of the disease can be as follows:
- darkening of the color of urine;
- refusal to eat;
- erythema develops in places of bites;
- yellowing of the mucous membranes;
- increase in the size of the spleen and liver;
- loss of interest in the world around them;
- increased sensitivity of the neck and head;
- impaired motor functions;
The virus through the blood very quickly enters the brain, affecting the nerve cells of the spinal cord, cervical spine. Gradually accumulating, causes inflammation in the meninges and vessels.
Signs of encephalitis in dogs can appear suddenly, 2-3 weeks after a bite, this is how long the incubation period can last.
Proper extraction of mite
If a mite is attached to the skin of a mite, it is desirable to extract the insect in a veterinary clinic. But when there is no way to get to the doctor, you can do it yourself using the following algorithm of actions:
- calm the dog;
- limit the movement of the animal;
- using tweezers to grasp the protruding back of the mite;
- twisting movements carefully to get an insect.
A tick should not be thrown away. It can come in handy for testing for carriage of the encephalitis virus. It is better to place it in a glass jar, tightly closing the lid to be sent to the laboratory as soon as possible.
To diagnose with a microscope, you must deliver a living insect to the laboratory. In order for the mite to remain alive, put in a container of cotton wool soaked with water. In large cities, there are methods for recognizing viral carrier through highly sensitive PCR tests, which allow the use of any material to detect a virus, down to fragments of mite claws.
It should be borne in mind that it is necessary to show the dog as soon as possible to the doctor, in order to diagnose at the outset or exclude tick-borne encephalitis.
Methods of diagnosis
The signs of encephalitis in dogs are manifested when the treatment may already be ineffective. That's why you should show the animal to the veterinarian immediately if a tick is found on his skin.
A qualified veterinarian may be suspected of tick-borne encephalitis in dogs after a visual examination. Symptoms for an experienced doctor may be noticeable a few days after the tick bite. That, of course, is not yet an excuse for starting treatment without setting an exact diagnosis.
For diagnosis, a biochemical and general blood test is performed, and its microscopic examination. However, antibodies against the virus can be detected in the blood no earlier than 10 days after the bite. Also, radiography (craniography) or ultrasound diagnosis of the dog's head can be used to detect changes in the brain. Only setting the right diagnosis in time will help save the life of a pet by correct treatment of the disease.
The dog needs to be examined for borreliosis or Lyme disease, pyroplasmosis, which also tolerate ixodid mites, in order to exclude all possible infections.
Unfortunately, it is too late to recognize the disease, so that it is possible to predict recovery and successfully cure tick-borne encephalitis in dogs. Symptoms in most cases occur even when it's too late to do anything. The only humane solution is getting rid of your beloved friend from suffering by putting him to sleep.
But sometimes it is possible to diagnose the disease on time. For treatment, antibiotics are used based on cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones intravenously. They act well on the virus, destroying the blood-brain barrier of cells, Isoniazid, Rifampicin.
In addition, the dog is prescribed corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, allergic reaction and eliminate neurological disorders. And also drugs that reduce intracranial pressure in the dog.
The treatment schedule and dosage of medications should be prescribed only by an experienced veterinarian! Improperly selected drugs can not only not cure encephalitis in dogs, but also significantly aggravate the animal's health and lead to death. The course of treatment is at least 3 months.
Vaccination of a dog
Vaccination from encephalitis is not done to dogs, as it has not yet been possible to come up with an effective vaccine against the disease. It is hoped that in the future scientists will still be able to create an effective drug that prevents the development of infection.
Prevention of disease
The only effective method remains timely protection against attack and bite of ticks:
- treatment of dogs with insecticocaricidal drops (protection 2-4 weeks);
- use of insecticaricidal collars (valid for several months).
Also important is the regular thorough examination of the skin of the dog after each walk. Particular attention should be paid to the neck area, the ears, the area of the armpits and other hard-to-reach places.
The health and life of the pet in the hands of its owner. Care of the animal is manifested not only in ensuring its food needs, walking and scratching behind the ear, but also in the timely prevention of dangerous diseases, in protecting the dog from bloodsucking pests, especially encephalitic ticks.
Preventing tick-borne encephalitis in dogs is much easier than later with the pain of conscience to observe the suffering of the animal during illness. Prevention is the main rule of maintaining the health of a pet, which will repay its owner with affection, devotion and disinterested love, will always be cheerful and happy.