Protatek Labs Tick Disease Information

An educated Greyhound owner is the single most critical factor in insuring the long-term health of these beautiful canine athletes and friends.

Has your Greyhound ever experienced any of the following:

Has your Greyhound:

If any of these symptoms or conditions apply to your dog, it is important that you know about recent findings of tick-borne diseases affecting Greyhounds all over the U.S.


ProtaTek Reference Laboratory ("ProtaTek") has performed serologic testing for tick-borne diseases on over 750 Greyhounds since March 1995. Findings revealed that some 40% of these animals are silent, asymptomatic carriers of at least one or more tick-borne disease agents.

Your dog may have been infected with, or exposed to, a number of tick-borne disease agents which may be uncommon in your area. In many cases, Greyhounds may actually appear perfectly healthy, with virtually no symptoms of disease, but be in a carrier state and potentially exposing other dogs, including their house mates.

Two similar and potentially serious tick-borne disease agents are Canine Ehrlichiosis also known as Tick Fever, and Canine Babesiosis. Both agents travel through the dog's blood stream and are typically transmitted by ticks; sometimes by the same tick bite. Greyhounds, as a breed, seem to be unique in their susceptibility to these diseases primarily because of travel to and residency in various states and the potential widespread infestation of ticks at Greyhound breeding, training and racing kennels. Because Greyhounds are transported across state lines for racing purposes and to adoptive homes, and the fact that they are used as blood donors, there is a much greater possibility for widespread transmission of these diseases, once thought to be more geographically isolated in occurrence. Moreover, the Greyhound breed is known to be very sensitive and easily stressed, increasing their susceptibility to disease.

The symptoms listed above are typical of what dogs may experience in the acute phase of each of these diseases. With Ehrlichiosis, affected dogs may later enter a chronic carrier phase which may last several years. During this stage dogs appear clinically healthy, but red blood cell, white blood cell and platelet counts remain below normal levels.

These carrier animals may be a dangerous source of infection of other dogs. Of equal concern, these carrier dogs can develop a more severe phase of Ehrlichiosis if they suddenly become stressed or immuno-suppressed due to other illnesses, harsh environments or the use of certain immuno-supressive drugs. Carrier dogs are considered walking time bombs. Once the dog goes beyond the carrier state and reaches the severe chronic phase, the disease becomes difficult and costly to treat.

Canine Ehrlichiosis can easily be diagnosed by the IFA test used in ProtaTek's laboratory. Treatment of Canine Ehrlichiosis consists of tetracycline drugs or their derivatives. Usually dogs in the early acute phase require only 2-3 weeks of treatment, whereas chronically affected dogs require treatment for 6 weeks or longer. In many cases, supportive therapy in the form of i.v. fluids and blood transfusions is also required.

In addition to tick bites, Babesiosis can be transmitted through blood transfusions as well as transplacentally, if the blood donors or dams are chronic carriers. Infection are most severe in dogs which become infected as puppies and young adults (<2 years).

Dogs 2 years or older generally develop an asymptomatic carrier state. Likewise puppies infected in utero remain carriers if untreated. Carrier dogs may also develop clinical Babesiosis if their immune systems are compromised. Carrier dogs can spread infection at an alarming rate if used as blood donors or for breeding purposes!!

Serology provides a highly accurate and reliable method for the detection of all stages of Canine Babesiosis. The IFA test is the most specific and sensitive method available. Two drugs have been determined top be effective against B.canis infections: Diminazene aceturate and Imidocarb dipropionate. Unfortunately , neither of these drugs are approved for routine use in the U.S. and special permission has to be obtained from the FDA in order for veterinarians to obtain them.

Two additional tick-borne diseases which Greyhound owners should be aware of are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever ("RMSF") and Lyme disease. Cases of RMSF are most prevalent in the eastern half of the U.S., but also occur in the West. Symptoms of RMSF are similar to those listed above for Ehrlichiosis. Likewise the disease is treated with tetracycline's.

Lyme disease, also, is characterized by many of the same symptoms listed above. Signs of chronic Lyme disease consist of recurrent, intermittent arthritis. Neurological symptoms and kidney disorders may also develop. Amoxicillin or doxycycline are the drugs of choice for treatment of this disease. ProtaTek uses the IFA test for diagnosis of both RMSF and Lyme disease. Humans are also susceptible of infections with certain strains of these four disease agents, if bitten by infected ticks.

Aside from the above tick-borne diseases, Greyhounds which have spent time in the southwest or western U.S. should also be tested for an insidious fungal disease known as Valley Fever. Clinical signs are variable and progressive and may include coughing, lethargy, weight loss, lameness, blindness and/or neurological disorders. ProtaTek's diagnostic test is able to determine whether an infected dog has a localized infection or if dissemination through out the body has occurred. Several Imidazole drugs are effective against the disease, which usually requires a longer treatment schedule than those mentioned above. For more information about diagnosing these diseases and their treatment, consult your veterinarian.

ProtaTek is uniquely specialized in the diagnosis of tick-borne disease. Our staff consists of individuals with long-term scientific/University experience with such diseases. Because of our concern for the Greyhound breed, ProtaTek has established a panel with a special discounted fee for diagnosis of all four tick-borne diseases, as well as Valley Fever, to make testing affordable to the Greyhound owner.

For more information about the services available, have your veterinarian contact:

Dr. Cynthia J. Holland
ProtaTek Reference Laboratory
574 East Alamo Street, Suite 90
Chandler, AZ 85225
Tel: (602) 545-8499 Fax: (602) 545-8409

Special thanks to Susan Netboy for her efforts to improve the health of Greyhounds.

This information is a publication of ProtaTek Reference Laboratory and GRA appreciates being able to provide the information contained in their brochure.

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