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Posts from — August 2014

All You Need to Know About Tick Fever (The Gory Details)

Photo Credit: Alpha.prim / Wikipedia

I hate ticks. Period. I used to hate them earlier because they seemed to prefer me to the dogs but since the Cuckoo episode, I hate them even more, even on the dogs. I have always been paranoid about them and have kept an ultra clean house to keep them out. [You can read my earlier list of home remedies for ticks to gauge my paranoia. 😀 ] But in the last two months with all the shifting and settling in, I slipped up and the dogs picked up a few of the critters, next thing I know, Cuckoo is diagnosed with tick fever.

I don’t know much about tick fever. Wait, let me correct that. I didn’t know much about tick fever until now and I still don’t know so much. However here’s what I’ve learned from a little bit of reading.

Tick fever is medically called Ehrlichiosis, and is also known as canine rickettsiosis, canine hemorrhagic fever, canine typhus, tracker dog disease, dog AIDS and tropical canine pancytopenia. Yep, that’s a lot of names!

Tick fever as the name suggests is a tick borne disease; it is a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks when they bite (or through blood transfusion) and the organism that usually causes it is Ehrlichia canis. There are various types of tick fever and even several species of Ehrlichia, but the one that is most common and has the most severe clinical signs is Ehrlichia canis, carried by the brown dog tick or Rhipicephalus sanguineous. These are the little critters we see around here in Bangalore and most parts of India.

Tick fever is not limited to dogs, it is also seen in humans, cats and other animals that ticks prey on. It doesn’t pass from dogs to human, only through ticks.

Ehrlichiosis has three stages with varying severity. The first stage is the Acute Stage which occurs one to three weeks after infection and lasts up to a month. The symptoms usually seen at this time are fever and lowered peripheral blood cell or platelet count due to the bone marrow being suppressed. These are the symptoms seen in Cuckoo along with the blood spots or petechiae. Sometimes a lack of appetite, drop in activity levels, bleeding, vasculitis, discharge from the eyes and nose, and/or edema of the legs and scrotum is also seen, but that depends from dog to dog.

The Subclinical phase is the second stage and has no outward signs. This stage can last for the remainder of the dogs life and the dog then remains infected and becomes a carrier of the organism. That said, apparently some dogs can manage to eliminate the disease during this stage.

The third stage of Ehrlichiosis is the Chronic stage and the most serious stage of the infection. In this stage the dog has very low blood cell (red, white and platelets) counts or pancytopenia, bleeding, bacterial infection, ophthalmic and neurological disorders, etc. which could lead to kidney disease. Some of the visible symptoms are weight loss, pale gums, lameness, bleeding, breathlessness, coughing, excessive thirst, excessive peeing, etc. Chronic ehrlichiosis can be fatal.

With tick fever the outcome for dogs in the Acute stage is good, however once dogs reach the chronic stage there is no telling which way it will go as the suppression of the bone marrow and low level of blood cells leads to the dog not responding well to treatment.

The usual treatment for Ehrlichiosis is a six to eight week course of the antibiotics tetracycline or doxycycline. Every week a repeat blood test is done to check on the response to treatment but the dog may take up to a month to respond. In severe case steroids, subcutaneous or intravenous fluids and even blood transfusions may be given.

When it comes to tick fever prevention is definitely better than cure. Keeping the dog and it’s environment tick free is the best way to avoid this pain in the ass infection.

That’s a lot of gyaan on tick fever but reading wasn’t all I did. I went to the Vet and other experts who have more than three dogs or a pack at home and learned tons more on tick fever management. The tons more is in the next piece of this write up – How to Manage Tick Fever If You Have a Pack of Dogs 😛

If you’d like to read more about tick fever, here are some links you might find helpful –
Canine Ehrlichiosis explained on Wikipedia
Protea Animal Clinic’s write-up on Tick Bite fever by Dr W J Grobler BVSc
Animal Health Hospital P.C.’s take on Tick Fever
Health24’s article on Tick bite fever in Humans

August 25, 2014   No Comments

Video Wednesday: SummerHill

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of videos, some I have come across myself on Youtube, others I have found thanks to friends on Facebook. But no matter the mode of finding them, I’ve been wanting to share them forward; recommend them to others to watch.

With this thought in mind I figured I’d start Video Wednesday – a way for me to share one video that I’ve immensely enjoyed every week. It could be a movie video, a song, spoken word, DIY tutorial, funny video,… oh well you get the gist, it could be anything but in video format. 😀 Hope you enjoy the videos I find and share here. 🙂

I came across the SummerHill video on a sustainability group I am a part of. The recommend said it was an “excellent and beautiful film on freedom of children and their education” and that got me interested.

I thought I would watch the first couple of minutes and decide whether to watch the rest, especially after I saw it was 1 hour and 48 minutes long! The first few minutes had me wanting to watch more and so I shelved the movie to watch along with dinner. And oh boy was that a long dinner! 😀

I enjoyed the movie which is the “story of a school of freedom which allows students to pursue their own interests, talents and passions”.  Some bits of it are in your face fake and over dramatized but yet the message is clear and strong. I would so want to be a part of school like SummerHill.

Based on a true story this is a four part television production that has been put together as one. SummerHill does exist in Suffolk, UK and so does it’s founder A. S. Neill’s principle – “Freedom, not Licence.” You can read more about SummerHill on it’s Wikipedia page and check out A.S Neill’s Summerhill School website.

Ok enough of the gyan, now over to the video. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

August 20, 2014   No Comments

It Isn’t the Usual Cuckoo Rash, It’s Tick Fever!

***This post got written last week but Che was traveling and I didn’t want to worry him so it was on hold for a bit. 🙂

I’m a little freaked out and stressed right now. Can’t think straight and I’m just going through the motions. I’m writing in the hope that it will help me sort my thoughts and calm me down.

It all started a couple of days ago with Elu peeing her pants… Elu’s our lastest entry into the pack and is just 4 months old – both of these put her in a place where she is figuring her way around the dogs and the pack structure. So, it was inevitable that she would stick her face into one of the dogs while they were eating and get put in her place. Elu of course did it all in style and squealed her head off enough to make everyone run for cover (except Max who was the teacher in this situation).

After all the teaching, peeing and squealing had stopped I stepped in to clean her up and noticed that some of her drying wounds had small boils. Photos were instantly taken and Dr.Ramesh(the Vet) was consulted. He asked me to apply Kiskin and watch for a couple of days. If it didn’t subside it could be mites he said. That, left me worried about contagion in the brat pack.

Elu's dry wounds show boils

Later that night I saw spots on Cuckoo’s underbelly. I had seen spots a day earlier around her neck but at that time I thought it was some rash she had got as usual and had applied Kiskin. Spots on the underbelly though, was odd, a closer look and I found more spots all over her. It was looking like she was getting measles or chicken-pox. I promptly did what the paranoid me does best; took photos and Whatsapp’d them right away to the Vet.

Spots on Cuckoo's Neck

Spots on Cuckoo's belly

Spots on Cuckoo's chest

Morning brought a reply from him asking me to bring her in for a closer check. Taking a dog to the Vet isn’t all that simple in my household. One challenge is splitting Cuckoo from Senti and Buddha who cannot do without her (when I did take her later, they apparently howled and whined for an hour). The even bigger one is that Che and I don’t own a car; yeah yeah I know 6 dogs and no car you say, but we have friends and they are amazing. Some juggling in my head and I started calling friends, and at the first call I hit pay-dirt. (I can’t be thankful enough to Anithra and Chaitanya for always being there for us.)

Anyway all logistics worked out, we headed out with Cuckoo and Elu (figured I’d get her checked-up too) in the evening. I could write an entire other post about Cuckoo going loony in the car but for now it’ll suffice to say that until now she has only traveled in hatchbacks and sedans, so an SUV blew her mind. She was all about the space and all over the place. And trust me, you don’t want to be in an enclosed space with Cuckoo when she is loony; after her, you’ll never be the same again.

Again, I was so thankful for Anithra who took care of Elu so I could deal with the basket-case, Cuckoo. She was upset as a banshee to be in the clinic and even snapped at Dr.Ramesh, something she has never done before. With the muzzle on, Dr.Ramesh summoned up the courage to get close to her face and see the spots on her neck. He didn’t like what he saw I think, coz he turned to me and shot off questions – how long have the spots been there?, have you found ticks on her recently?, is she eating fine?, any dullness?. I answered the questions as best as I could – a day or two, yes a few over the last week or so, eating same as always and asking for more, nope no dullness at all.

What followed next left Cuckoo even more upset. She had a thermometer stuck up her ass and she didn’t like it much. Well, neither did I when it read 104.2F (normal is 102 and below). Dr.Ramesh decided to instantly check her platelet count, which is possible now that Cessna Lifeline has their own lab. Ten minutes later the Doc was holding the results and giving me the look. The report didn’t look good.

Cuckoo's Blood Test Results

All attributes of the CBC test were good but Cuckoo’s platelet count was low, way low. Dr.Ramesh looked at me and said ‘Tick Fever’. And then he saw me lost and muddled and fuddled and duddled and everything else, so he asked me to wait and got out his prescription pad. The spots have definition he said, unlike a rash, and that made him want to check further. The fever and platelet count confirmed his fears, it was tick fever but it was early stages it looked like.

Cuckoo got the needle and her first dose of medication (a shot of prednisolone), while I stood there listening and trying to grasp all that was expected of me in the next four weeks. As long as she ate well and stayed active all is well he said, just don’t miss the medications. Come back in 7 days for another round of blood work and we’ll take it from there.

But it didn’t end there, I also needed to check temperatures of all the dogs everyday first thing in the morning for the next couple of weeks. Sticking a thermometer in (my WHD’s) Senti and Buddha’s ass is all rosy, but try doing that to William and Max, my fully grown adult Golden Retriever and Labrador. Oh boy, oh boy, was I feeling like a lost puppy!

While all this was explained to me, Cuckoo of course vocally made sure her displeasure was heard and felt. When we finally left I’m sure Dr.Ramesh and others at the clinic heaved a collective sign of relief. The silence at Cuckoo’s departure must have been deafening. 😀

It’s maybe why they gave me two bags of cookies instead on one when I was leaving. 😛

Cessna's 9th Anniversary Gift

Two people I haven’t mentioned yet but who helped me immensely were Mom and Granny. They were visiting with the intention of getting some rest and spending time with me but all this stuff happened and Mom was such a rock with I shook like a leaf. I don’t know how I would have left behind Senti, Buddha, William and Max at home if it hadn’t been for them. Mom, as always, You Rock!

I’m learning a lot about Tick Fever and, big dogs and thermometers :P, but more on this in another post.

If you are wondering about Elu, the boils were just a bacterial infection that isn’t contagious and she’ll be fine soon after a round of antibiotics and baths. She was prescribed tablets, supplements and coconut oil. 😀

August 19, 2014   4 Comments