Hyped Lyme Disease Outbreak
Explosion of Lyme Disease in New York state sends dog owners rushing to their vets for booster shots. Good for veterinary income, not good for dogs or owners!
July 2016 | TheDogPress DogSense
Barbara J. Andrews, Editor-In-Chief
In late May a concerned reader reported "In our area of NYS we have had an explosion of lyme positive dogs that have been tested by our Vet." I reacted by doing a Google search, concerned that our staff had missed news on something we've covered so thoroughly. Like a cat spotting a mouse, I saw typical "planted" press releases.
Here, put on your own cat's eye and see the results of a narrow search term for "new york 2016 lyme disease outbreak". I'll include only the first three as examples for you, an about-to-be internet savvy person. Google presented "About 147,000 results (0.37 seconds)". 147 returns on such a narrow search parameter is in itself revealing.
A New Culprit in Lyme Disease - The New York Times
Notably, the top ranked "news" releases continued February through May. That is an extraordinary parameter for a contagious "outbreak" news story.
This is typical of "seeded" stories meant to increase business and ok, they do serve as a reminder. But for what? I have a hard time believing there's a dog owner out there who is unaware that rabies shots are required. Note the significance - rabies is a threat to public health. None of the other vaccine boosters are necessary except to get owners into the veterinary office.
OK, a yearly checkup is a very good thing. Hopefully the veterinarian can catch something that might be missed by the owner such as a tumor, obesity, or dental disease. But beware of the incessant pitch for booster shots. The only part of the dog-client-veterinarian relationship that needs yearly booster shots is the business profit margin.
Your dog doesn't need boosters any more than YOU need yearly polio or tetanus shots. We have very similar immune systems and a vaccine is a vaccine is a vaccine. I have close personal friends who are veterinarians. It is an ethics question with which pediatricians and veterinarians wrestle. Others refuse to be honest with themselves and their patients, human or animal suffer the consequences.
Here is a personal example. I have never used heartworm prevention on any of my dogs. As manager of a small but very successful greyhound kennel, in 1968 I learned through the racing industry that styrid-caracide did more harm than good. I'm grateful to those professionals for many canine health, diet, and care lessons I've "field tested" and proven effective for nearly 50 years. "Odds are" heartworm prevention is more likely to adversely affect a dog's physical ability and overall health than is the chance that my dog will get bitten by a mosquito that happens to be carrying heartworm microfilaria.
The point here is that I have never had a dog with heartworms. I am from Florida and still live in the south. That early experience and having many veterinary friends leads me to view the proliferation of new veterinary medications and preventative treatments with measured skepticism.
And that is exactly how I see the Lyme Disease outbreak in New York.