Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tick Borne Disease and Semen Quality

First, let me begin by saying that I am no stranger to Lyme disease and also other tick borne diseases as my dogs and my family have been personally affected in many ways over the years. From PA to NH and other places traveled along the East Coast, I feel that we have lived in and traveled in very high risk areas for these diseases. At one point about 5 years ago, my entire pack tested positive for Lymes and not only did I have to treat everyone with 6-8 wk course of Doxy but we at the time, made the decision be more proactive in treating our yard, since we knew that this is where they all had been infected. We used tick tubes on the perimeter, and began having the yard sprayed with an all natural spray(so they tell me) on perimeter and around foundation of the house in any mulched areas since ticks tend to nest in these areas. It is not just the deer that carry the ticks, as most know, it is mice and birds too. I felt we were doing well and still feel that this plan has been successful but only in my yard.
I am also very averse to treating my dogs with any topical poisons or internal ones that kill ticks. I have only ever used Frontline and when I did, it was sparingly when I had an infestation of fleas that my boys brought back from our house in NC. I was able to get it under control with natural remedies and only used the Frontline on a few of the dogs.
I feel this is good background information leading up to my experiences with my two boys having low sperm counts. Three years ago, in June 2016, I had both my boys collected at a mobile ICSB at a show. It was not first collections for the boys as I had previously collected and frozen semen and also had collected before and evaluated and both were very good collections. The collection that day for Louie was awful. Not worth freezing. Case's collection was excellent at first look. However later when I got the report back for number of units frozen, it was noted that many of the sperm were clustered and circling. At that time, I was very worried about what was happening with Louie, in particular, and brought him to Slade in Framingham to my repro vets for further evaluation. They had no explanation as to the low count (which had gotten even worse). I questioned whether or not Lymes could affect semen and they told me that they just are not sure if it could. He was not testing with a new infection at the time even though 2 yr previous to that everyone in the pack had been treated. I had them run a full tick panel and a C6, also a test for mycoplasma. The C6 showed a low titer for Lymes showing inactive exposure. Test for Mycoplasma was negative. Full tick panel showed he had been exposed to Rocky Mt Fever tick disease. I then tested Case and he also showed exposure. They never exhibited any symptoms for this tick borne disease. I know they did not contract this in my yard or in NH and I do not believe they came in contact with this in the New England area, however, we had traveled to MD, and to Chesapeake Bay area for shows that previous Fall and they had to have been exposed then. My regular vet discounted any connection to Rocky Mt exposure and the low sperm count and also felt that it was not even necessary to treat them for Rocky Mt since it was not showing an active exposure but just that they had been exposed and probably their immune systems were strong enough to not be affected. I disagreed and felt they should be treated anyway. My repro vets felt it was worth it to treat also. I put them both on 8 weeks of Doxy.
Semen improved but not by much. There were sperm but not enough to be a breeding unit. That was after 8 weeks of  Doxy. I was also giving double dose of Glyco Flex with the green lipped mussel since that has been known to help improve semen quality and was giving Oxy-Stud to both boys daily.
I have heard that some breeders had put their stud dogs on Baytril when they were having a non diagnosed low sperm count. So Slade agreed that it was worth a try. I had my pharmacy compound Enroflaxin for them both. Case's counts were never bad but he had a very high count of distill and proximal droplets. After the first round of Enroflaxin, Louie's semen was an acceptable breeding unit but still not back to normal.  I asked them to refill the prescription to do one more round. Then continued to collect and evaluate. He had several months of improvement and then decline and finally, after 18 months, we were back to 98% motility and 700-800 million.
So do I feel that tick borne disease can affect sperm adversely? In my opinion, absolutely. And I think it is happening more often than we, as breeders, even realize. I think that the Baytril was more effective in treating than the Doxy for my boys.
I also think that we should all be more proactive in getting our boys evaluated regularly and also should be doing FULL tick panels since 4DX snap tests will only test for Lyme, Erlichia, and Anaplasmosis. I also would say to those who do not live in the Northeast or the East Coast, that ticks are now all over. And dogs are traveling from West to East more frequently to shows and to do hunt training.
I understand that many use the Lyme vaccine but EVEN if it is effective, and does not cause a problem for your dog, it does not protect your dog against other tick borne disease. I also know that many have had good success with no visible side effects using internal tick products such as Bravecto and Simparica and Nexgard. My opinion with any of these is if I wouldn't take it , why would I give it to my dog.  About a decade ago, there was FDA approved Human Lyme vaccine...taken off the market very soon afterward. Do you wonder why? I spoke to one of the research scientists from Rohr who worked on that vaccine and at the time, we lived in PA and I was so freaked out about Lymes. My son had developed Bells Palsy from Lyme. My husband had been extremely sick from Lyme.
My sister to this day, has long term debilitating affects from chronic Lyme. The scientist told me he would never give the vaccine to his family. Why would we give this to our dogs? 
I don't know the best answer to battling these awful parasites but it is not toxins. I know my risks and that of my dogs. I have to be very proactive and vigilant. Early treatment and testing often is key.
Doing full tick panels if necessary.
And..if you have a stud dog that is low sperm count or going sterile, perhaps it is not too late to bring him back. Don't give up. Treat with the Baytril and treat long enough. Give the Oxy Stud and the Green Lipped Muscle found in GlycoFlex. Boost their immune system any way you can. Maybe you will be lucky, like I was, and have it come back. Don't give up too quickly.