Tick Diseases

Horses are a popular host for growing tick populations, increasing farriers’ exposure to tick-borne diseases (See Strategies for Preventing Tick-Borne Diseases). This is a snapshot of medically important tick-borne diseases as listed on the CDC website. For detailed information about tick-borne diseases, visit the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov/ticks). 

Anaplasmosis can develop in humans and horses and usually occurs five to 14 days post-bite. Early warning signs include fever, severe headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The antibiotic Doxycycline is frequently used with success to treat the disease.

Babesiosis infections are caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells, with tick bites being one mode of transmission. Indicators can range from asymptomatic to life-threatening. However, it is treatable with prompt medical care.

Colorado tick fever is not currently treatable but tends to cause mild symptoms; however, fatigue may persist for several weeks.

Ehrlichiosis produces similar symptoms to anaplasmosis and is also treated with Doxycycline.

Hard relapsing tick disease is relatively new to the U.S. and is treated with antibiotics, including doxycycline, amoxicillin, and ceftriaxone. Fever, chills, and headaches are common indicators.

Heartland virus disease is similar to anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis and has been identified in Midwestern and Southern states. Because it is a virus, it does not respond to antibiotics. Most cases are mild and resolve with rest and hydration.

Lyme disease is the most widespread tick disease characterized by fever, headache, fatigue, and a bull’s-eye-shaped rash. Symptoms can spread to joints, the heart…

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Katie navarra

Katie Navarra

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer who draws from her experiences owning and showing horses, and inter­viewing the industry’s leading pro­fessionals.

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