November 8, 2010
Tick Patrol For Friesians
Ticks are dreaded creatures that can cause very serious illnesses, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis. These tiny parasitic horrors are members of the arachnid family, along with spiders, scorpions, and mites. There are many kinds of ticks, but they all operate in the same way. Ticks patiently wait for their victims on the tips of grasses and shrubs. When brushed by a moving animal or person, they quickly let go of the vegetation and climb onto the host. They crawl to a favorable place on the body and latch on with a powerful mouth to begin sucking blood. They feed slowly and may go unnoticed for several days. It’s important to check your body after spending time outdoors and you should also check your children and your pets after an outside romp. Betsy, my stable manager, inspects my four Friesians every day for ticks. Finding them and removing ticks promptly lessens the chance of being infected by the tick pathogen, as most tick-transmitted diseases are transferred to the host after the tick has been feeding for some time.
Update: The blood test results are back and all my Friesians appear normal, thank goodness!
1 Once a day, my horses are lined up for a tick check.
2 Rinze stands patiently while Betsy passes her hands over his coat, searching for ticks.
3 Ah-ha! Betsy finds one on an upper inner leg.
4 Using special tick tweezers, she carefully grasps the tick and pulls it outward and upward, skillfully removing all mouth parts.
5 This engorged tick has had quite a feast. Betsy will dispose of it by putting it in a jar of alcohol.
6 Once a tick has has begun feeding, its salivary secretions form a cement that locks the jaws in place. This hold can only be loosened when feeding is finished and another chemical is secreted to dissolve the cement. The tick then falls off.
7 More inspection and another tick
8 After removing the tick, the area gets disinfected. Dolma helps Betsy with this very important tick patrol.
9 Although ticks are commonly thought of as insects, they are actually arachnids like scorpions, spiders and mites. All members of this group have four pairs of legs as adults and have no antennae.
10 Ticks are among the most efficient carriers of disease because they attach firmly when sucking blood, feed slowly and may go unnoticed for a considerable time while feeding. Ticks take several days to complete feeding.
11 Once a year, my large animal veterinarian, Dr. Elizabeth Kilgallon comes to draw blood from the Friesians to test for tick-borne diseases.
12 That-a-boy, Ramon.
13 The blood samples are sent to the lab where they are tested for various levels of bacteria.
14 Now it's Rinze's turn.
15 The new samples are compared to last year's levels to see if there is any dramatic change.
16 If the levels are elevated, antibiotics are prescribed.
17 Rinze didn't seem to mind one bit.