(KCBS) – What is Lyme Disease – and just how big of a problem is it?

“I think most people know that you or your dog can catch Lyme Disease from a tick,” offered Jennifer Scarlett, DVM, co-president of the San Francisco SPCA. “But it’s actually just the vector. The causative agent is a bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi. And the gross part about this is the tick has to be attached to you or your dog for a good 48 hours before it’s transmitted.”

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“Fortunately,” she continued, “California has a fairly low incidence of Lyme Disease. There are pockets here or there, most of it occurs in Connecticut and Delaware.”

“In people we classically see this bullseye lesion around the tick. Now this is easy to miss in our furry friends. And then the signs are really kind of vague, general malaise, flu-like symptoms, achy joints. And there is a treatment for Lyme Disease, it’s an antibiotic and it can be used and you’ll have a more complete and speedy recovery if we start the treatment earlier.

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KCBS’ Jeff Bell Reports:

Researchers recently developed a new technique that allows them to more efficiently test bacterial genes and then learn about their roles in infection.

“These researchers at the University of Texas have made these leaps and bounds in understanding which genes cause this bacteria to become infectious and causing disease. This is a huge step in coming up with a very specific and accurate diagnostic test, with will then hopefully lead to more speedy recoveries and faster treatment for people and dogs.”

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