Lyme disease is caused by a group of bacteria called Borrelia which has up to 18 species that can cause infection after being transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. It is the most common vector-borne disease in dogs in the U.S. but it can also infect horses, cattle, and cats. At least 4 known species of ticks can transmit Lyme disease however the most common is the deer tick. Lyme disease occurs in three stages (early localized, early disseminated, and late disseminated) and the symptoms depend on the stage of the disease. Diagnosis is by ELISA using antigen to detect antibodies to Borrelia which can often be detected 4 to 6 weeks after the initial infection. Positive results must be confirmed by western blot analysis.
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