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Police K9 diagnosed with lyme disease, opens conversation about prevention

Meet Marc…

He's a part-time 3 year-old German Shephard, and a part-time member of the Mechanicsburg Police Force.

“There’s always someone to talk to in the car,” said Officer Justin Shutt, Marc's owner.

But between sniffing out drugs and fighting crime, Marc has been dealing with his own battle as well.

“During just some blood work, which is routine, they ended up finding out he was positive for lyme,” said Officer Shutt.

Veterinarians say this doesn’t come as a shock.

In Cumberland County, the tick-spread illness has affected one in 14 dogs this year alone.

The rate is even higher in York and Dauphin counties, where one in 11 dogs have tested positive, part of 26,000 cases across the state.

“We live in this area, in a very endemic area. That means we have scads of lyme disease here, very very common," said Dr. Jennifer Todd with Lambs Gap Animal Hospital.

In dogs, early symptoms include fever and lethargy, but that can be fleeting.

As the disease advances, it can cause arthritis and even kidney or heart failure.

Luckily, in most cases, though, antibiotics and bi-annual check-ups will keep the disease at bay.

“Because we’re so aggressive and we have such a sensitive test, and we test yearly, we are very lucky for dogs that we can actually find this and it’s very treatable, very treatable,” said Dr. Todd.

Of course, the ideal treatment is prevention, which Dr. Todd says is very simple.

“We do like to use year round prevention, and then because we do live in an endemic area, we like to vaccinate against lyme disease. And we consider that a core vaccine here where we live,” said Dr. Todd.

Marc is now being treated by Dr. Todd’s team at Lambs Gap Animal Hospital, and by looking at him, you wouldn’t even know anything is wrong.

So he can continue to protect his community on the clock, and protect his ball when he’s just being a dog.