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It’s Not Tick Fever, It’s Auto-Immune

It’s been over a month since I first talked about Cuckoo getting tick fever. Che was traveling at that time and it was a extremely stressful week. I had read up on tick fever like a student before exams, cleaned house like a maniac and watched the dogs like a stalker.

After ten days of doxycycline as medication Cuckoo was due for another round of blood tests. Che had returned by then so it was possible to take Cuckoo across to Cessna while he handled the howlers. After another maddening trip to Cessna where Cuckoo peed in the car, slipped her collar and harness at the sight of the needle and generally went out of her way to give the Docs a hard time, we got the blood work results.

Her platelet count had gone up but not as much as the Doctor would have liked. Recovery was taking too long he said and things needed to be speeded up. They gave her one shot of prednisolone and put her on a 10 day course of it along with the doxycycline.

While discussing the treatment plan I asked the Doc about how we would confirm at the end of treatment that Cuckoo was not a carrier of the Ehrlichia canis organism any more. With six dogs that’s a concern because if she is a carrier all the other five will always be at risk. The Doc said that to do that we would extend her treatment plan to 6-8 weeks and also run the 4Dx Snap test on her blood to confirm that she isn’t a carrier any more.

4Dx Snap test… There was a test for tick fever? I promptly asked the Doc how much the test costs and why we hadn’t tested her until now. The test he said was Rs.1000 and was not needed now as he was 100% sure it was tick fever.

Armed with this information I left the clinic and updated Che with all that had happened. He asked the same question, why hadn’t we tested Cuckoo until now. The only difference was he wasn’t satisfied with the Doc’s answer, he insisted on the test being done. However the same blood sample could not be used as this test required blood serum and hence a fresh blood sample was needed.

Since we had already left the clinic there was no point in going back to take another sample, especially considering how much Cuckoo was freaking out. Two days later we got another Vet to come home and take a sample that we could personally take to Cessna for testing. This Vet saw Cuckoo for the first time that day and he had a diagonally opposite diagnosis that startled me.

He checked out Cuckoo, asked a few questions and declared that she didn’t have tick fever. And I was like ‘what?!’ He explained that considering her activity levels, physical signs and appetite were good, the possibility of tick fever was minimal. The spots I was seeing on her neck and stomach was most likely to be auto-immune disease.

Auto-immune disease was not that simple though and didn’t have a straight forward cure. Our best treatment option was steroids for about ten days in a tapered dosage he said. After that we could do a repeat test for platelet count, but the main thing was that we had to just watch and wait and hope it sorted out. There was no perfect cure.

He changed the daily dosage amount prescribed and wrote out the same prednisolone prescription. Dr. Morton didn’t think a snap test was required but we insisted he take a blood sample. After he left Che and I sat down to wait out the one hour it would take the blood to completely clot before we could transport it.

The test itself is simple and quick, not unlike a pregnancy test. And just like with pregnancy tests we were pacing to see the results of this one. The result was negative. Cuckoo did not have tick fever. We had given her doxycycline for ten days for no reason. Even Dr. Ramesh now told Che it was auto-immune and that that was why he had prescribed prednisolone two days ago.

At that point of time with all this news I wasn’t sure which was better and whether we had gone from the frying pan into the fire. What we did do though was watch Cuckoo like a hawk for the next ten days and gave her her medications like clockwork. The medication was a pain though as I not only had to make halves and quarters but also 1/8ths. 😀

It’s been a couple of weeks now and between steroids and homeopathy, Cuckoo has gotten better. The spots have gone away and have stopped showing up. After all that panic and palpitation, I may be breathing easier now but through it all Cuckoo has been herself, completely cuckoo!

Special thanks to Devisri who helped chauffeur Cuckoo to Cessna and manage her there (with a bitch like Cuckoo that is a lot!). 🙂

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