Use of tick surveys and serosurveys to evaluate pet dogs as a sentinel species for emerging Lyme disease. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: To evaluate dogs as a sentinel species for emergence of Lyme disease in a region undergoing invasion by Ixodes scapularis. SAMPLE POPULATION: 353 serum samples and 78 ticks obtained from dogs brought to 18 veterinary clinics located in the lower peninsula of Michigan from July 15, 2005, through August 15, 2005. PROCEDURES: Serum samples were evaluated for specific antibodies against Borrelia burgdorferi by use of 3 serologic assays. Ticks from dogs were subjected to PCR assays for detection of pathogens. RESULTS: Of 353 serum samples from dogs in 18 counties in 2005, only 2 (0.6%) contained western blot analysis-confirmed antibodies against B burgdorferi. Ten of 13 dogs with I scapularis were from clinics within or immediately adjacent to the known tick invasion zone. Six of 18 I scapularis and 12 of 60 noncompetent vector ticks were infected with B burgdorferi. No ticks were infected with Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and 3 were infected with Babesia spp. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Serosurvey in dogs was found to be ineffective in tracking early invasion dynamics of I scapularis in this area. Tick chemoprophylaxis likely reduces serosurvey sensitivity in dogs. Ticks infected with B burgdorferi were more common and widely dispersed than seropositive dogs. In areas of low tick density, use of dogs as a source of ticks is preferable to serosurvey for surveillance of emerging Lyme disease. IMPACT FOR HUMAN MEDICINE: By retaining ticks from dogs for identification and pathogen testing, veterinarians can play an important role in early detection in areas with increasing risk of Lyme disease.

published proceedings

  • Am J Vet Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Hamer, S. A., Tsao, J. I., Walker, E. D., Mansfield, L. S., Foster, E. S., & Hickling, G. J.

citation count

  • 43

complete list of authors

  • Hamer, Sarah A||Tsao, Jean I||Walker, Edward D||Mansfield, Linda S||Foster, Erik S||Hickling, Graham J

publication date

  • January 2009