A RARE SIDE EFFECT OF LYME DISEASE
In a message dated 5/26/04
10:53:45 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
We recently had a very strange event which I think
we should share around the rescue-community:
Young (~2 years) M Lab-mix, came into our program with
a 'questionable' background; may have been aggressive
toward some children; then again, maybe not.
We kept him for a long while - months of fostering in our premier
foster-home, no problems; placed him carefully, with a single
middle-aged man who adored him. We also, as we do all our dogs, tested
him for Lyme. He had it; we treated it; case closed -- we thought.
Everything went very well after adoption - the star of
his obedience-class, frequent alum-visits to clinics -
for over a year. And truly adored by his adopter.
Then, over 12-mos post-adopt, Mojo became suddenly,
erratically, and seriously aggressive: literally attacked visitors to
his home, people in the vet's waiting room, etc. Terrifying.
Very-sudden. Totally inexplicable. He was returned to us with genuine
heartbreak from a very loving adopter.
Mojo then went to our regular vet and was a totally
different dog: bared-teeth and growls at anyone who
approached his kennel, lunged at other dogs when being
walked, etc. We figured that whatever was happening with him, he had
become un-placeable and started a TDC (Tough Decisions Committee -
something we 'convene' that is open to anyone with an interest in the
dog when we think that euthanasia might be an option).
However, someone at the vet's office said that perhaps
we should test him for Lyme. Huh????????
They had had a regular client of theirs come in recently with similar,
out-of-the blue-aggro, and it turned out that Lyme was the problem -
puzzled them, but seemed to be the case. Okay -- hey, we'll try
anything -- so we had him tested. He was high positive!
Fine, we started treatment while we continued to figure
out what to do with him via the TDC. Almost immediately, however, once
the antibiotics began, the Mojo we knew came back!! He was himself
again - bouncy, happy, a bit neurotic, but not at all aggressive!
The staff at the vets was amazed, but all confirmed this change. We
didn't believe it; vets didn't believe it...BUT a thorough search of
the Internet turned up a number of studies (plus) anecdotal-observati
ons indicating that in some dogs (and some humans!!) the
primary-symptom of their Lyme Disease can be sudden, irrational and
We've known for a while to check thyroid-levels of dogs
that show aggro that just 'doesn't fit'. Now we've added testing for
Lyme as well. And we have - results not-yet in - another dog, placed
12-mos-plus, returned because of out-of-the-blue aggro... he also
tested high-positive for Lyme!
We've started treatment; we'll be monitoring his response. So - plug
this in to your protocols; worth checking-out. I spent the day today
with Mojo... he truly is just the same dog we placed over a year ago.
(We've let his original adopter know - because he vowed
that it had to be something causing this behavior.
But he cannot take Mojo back because his roommate, one
of the people attacked, won't even consider it.
For the record, there were no skin-breaking contacts in
any of these attacks, but plenty of fear and we consider them as
serious as if they were full-fledged bites.)
We actually have additional insight into this because
one of our volunteers (human) has had Lyme Disease.
Took many months for her to be diagnosed; once she
was, she learned it's a VERY-nasty bug that remains
permanently, waiting for a chance to 'crop-up' again.
When we place Mojo again (TDC unanimously agrees we
should), we're going to explain the background, these
amazing events, and require the adopters test every
6-mos, whether or not he's symptomatic. We have no
idea whether that will work or be sufficient - we're
rather flying blind in this - but it seems rational.
But based on what we know now, its a real possibility:
Lyme can, in a few rare-cases, cause aggression-
aggression that can be reversed.
Permission was granted to cross post this.