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Matthew Sisk: Annual checkup reveals exposure to Lyme disease
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It’s been a year since I saw Lemmy last. And now it’s time for his routine yearly checkup.

The only difference is his little (human) brother comes toddling in behind the fuzzy patient. Lemmy is now about 4 years old, and his little brother is just short of 2.

The result is Lemmy has a walking, talking tiny human as a companion. And that kind of human often shares food, despite paternal protests, and it shows. Lemmy has gained 8 pounds. Hanging out under the high chair as it rains macaroni and french fries will do that to you.

We discuss the implications of the weight gain, and it appears Lemmy may be banished from the dining room during human feeding hours. He gives me an accusing look as his parents tell me of the plan.

Still, it is in Lemmy’s best interest to curb this amassing of weight. In the short term, he’ll miss out on yummy treats. But his joints will last longer, as will his heart, kidneys, lungs and all the rest.

Lemmy isn’t as young as he used to be, so we have to watch this closely.

Otherwise, it’s a routine visit, save one test. As a routine screening test, Lemmy is screened for blood parasites, mainly heartworms. He’s negative for most of them, but one shows a faint positive result.

The test is a weak positive for Lyme disease. But take this result with a grain of salt, because the screening test only detects antibodies against Lyme disease, not actual living bacteria. Therefore, it indicates exposure to the pathogen, but not definitive ongoing infection.

Lemmy has never received a vaccine for Lyme disease, so that cross reaction isn’t a consideration. So somewhere, Lemmy has been exposed. No outward signs of illness have been noted, and Lemmy looks great externally, other than his weight.

We send out blood work to determine if an active infection is beginning. Thankfully, the results indicate no active problem.

Still, Lemmy was exposed. That means his environment has the tick that spreads the disease. Not just to dogs, but to humans, too.

The entire family should be vigilant from now on.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at mattsisk2003@yahoo.com.

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