Tick population soaring as local vets see Lyme Disease cases in dogs quadruple

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FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WDTV) -- The CDC says there is an accelerating trend of tickborne diseases in the U.S. as we begin National Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

Scott Moore is a Veterinarian at the Fairmont Veterinary Hospital. He's one of the hundreds of vets in West Virginia and the Northeast that are treating more and more dogs for Lyme Disease every year.

"In the last five years, we've seen a dramatic rise in Lyme Disease cases," Moore said.

According to data from the nonprofit Pets and Parasites, about 1 out of every 20 dogs tested for the disease in West Virginia were positive in 2014. Last year, it was 1 of 10.

Medical professionals aren't quite sure what is causing the increase, which is progressively worse further up the East Coast. But Moore is seeing some trends.

"We're seeing a lot more ticks that carry the lime disease in our area opposed to the common wood tick," Moore said.

The CDC also warns that the U.S. isn't fully prepared to control the threat of increasing tick populations.

"Local and state health departments and vector control organizations face increasing demands to respond to ticks and tickborne diseases," a 2018 CDC report said. "Proven and publicly accepted methods are needed to better prevent tick bites and to control ticks and tickborne diseases."

Lyme Disease isn't contagious. But it can be deadly if not treated early.

"Sometimes the dogs won't be able to move well. In some cases, it can progress to kidney failure," Moore said. "When Lyme Disease hits the kidney, it's almost 100 percent fatal."

He recommends getting good flea and tick prevention for dogs or investing in a flea and tick collar.

The CDC suggests checking yourself for ticks and showering within two hours of coming inside including from your own backyard.

"We need to be careful," Moore said. "Check yourself, check your dogs, use the preventions that are available. Lyme vaccines are available and good flea and tick preventions are available."