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Antiparasitic drugs do not work 100%. The dog Kulíšek fought for his life because of the tick

A single tick was enough and the assistance dog Kulíšek almost died. Despite all preventive measures and antiparasitic protection, he contracted anaplasmosis from a common tick. A disease that is very difficult to recognize and that often ends in lifelong consequences and death. In addition, it remains in the dog’s body and can break out again at any time. Even suitable antiparasitics did not protect the animal.

Assistance dog Kulíšek was infected with anaplasmosis, which is transmitted by the common tick

| Photo: courtesy of Sonia Kecová

Kulisek is a five-year-old black labrador who is more than just a family pet. It is a perfectly trained assistance dog. He is an important helper and psychological support for his seriously ill mistress, Soňa Kecová. He always brought her a bottle of water, a bag of medicine, glasses or slippers. He can open doors, hand over a ringing phone and call for help.

But suddenly he found himself on the edge of life and death, and that was because of a single tick. He was infected with insidious anaplasmosis.

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“My condition has deteriorated greatly over the past three years. I can’t go anywhere except to see the doctors. Ninety percent of the day I spend in bed next to my helper, who I can’t do without,” begins Soňa Kecová about the illness of her four-legged partner.

“I am willing to do anything to save Kulíšek and I will never give up. I promised him that,” adds the woman, who has already lost one dog due to anaplasmosis.

On the brink of death because of a tick

Assistance dog Kulíšek contracted anaplasmosis at the turn of July and August of last year. Unfortunately, it is a disease that is difficult to diagnose due to its non-specific symptoms. “He was treated with antibiotics, antifungals and corticoids for four months. At first it looked like a dietary mistake. He was vomiting, had diarrhea, was lethargic. Later, he also had balance problems and limped,” the owner describes the symptoms.

Kulíšek was diagnosed with anaplasmosis from blood tests only before Christmas. This was followed by targeted treatment with tetracycline antibiotics (broad-spectrum antibiotics, editor’s note) and antifungals. Thanks to them, Kulíšek survived the acute form of the disease, but even so he is still too weak.

Anaplasmosis bacteria will remain in him for the rest of his life. In case of any stress load, surgery or virus, it can fully manifest itself again.

“I am completely exhausted mentally, physically and financially. It has been dragging on with us since the end of last August. It cost us 127 thousand crowns in those few months. I have already used up all my savings and pension savings,” says Kulíšk’s wife. That’s why she started a collection on the platform for her four-legged friend Donia.

Insidious anaplasmosis

The disease is according to the attending veterinarian Zbynka Horák from Havířová is insidious in that it can hardly be detected in time. If it comes to it too late, it can result in irreversible damage to the organism or the death of the dog.

“Anaplasmosis is an infection that can be transmitted to a dog by a common tick. The disease has two forms (acute and chronic, editor’s note), but both represent a serious danger for the dog,” he confirms.

In the picture, a drawing of the bacterium anaplasma phagocytophilum:

“Both forms of anaplasmosis can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stiffness and joint pain similar to arthritis. Many dogs recover from the acute phase of the disease, but remain chronically infected. A serious problem can arise if the immune system is later disrupted,” adds the veterinarian.

Antiparasitic tablets failed

Despite the fact that Kulíšek took antiparasitic tablets every five weeks (time recommended by the manufacturer, editor’s note), he contracted the disease. No anti-parasitic protection is 100% reliable.

Soni Kecová’s assistance dog is unfortunately one of those that was infected by the tick despite regularly taking appropriate preventive measures.

“Kulíšek’s liver and kidneys are damaged due to anaplasmosis and he is immediately tired. He used to be cheerful and energetic, now he just lies down. I had no idea that he could be in such a critical condition because of a single tick. A long-term recovery and complicated lifelong treatment await us,” despairs a woman who has been on disability pension for 20 years due to unbearable chronic pain. An assistance dog is therefore a daily necessity for her.

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In addition, Kulisek has been dealing with reduced immunity and severe allergies with atopic eczema since birth. If he hadn’t taken the prescribed medication his whole life, he would have shredded the skin all over his body.

As a result, he develops extensive lesions, scabs and has inflamed, oozing, smelly skin. It soon becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. The fight against anaplasmosis is thus even more difficult for Kulíšek than for a healthy dog.

A woman fights for all dogs

The owner Kulíška is not going to accept the fact that the owners of other dogs should meet a similar fate. That’s why she decided to warn everyone with her story. According to her, in the vicinity of the Těrlická dam near Havířov, several other dogs from the area died of anaplasmosis.

“With help, I distributed leaflets warning about this disease and describing the symptoms. I also published everything on social networks and in newspapers. I also plan to contact the State Health Institute and I have informed the Regional Veterinary Administration,” Soňa Kecová fights for the other dogs in moments when her illness gives her a moment of respite.

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According to veterinarian Zbyňek Horák, most cases of anaplasmosis occur in spring and summer, but also in autumn. Often there is a simultaneous infection with Lyme disease or ehrlichiosis.

Zbyněk Horák assumes that the infection is transmitted after 24 hours. He therefore recommends checking the dog every day and at least once a year preventively undergoing a rapid clinical blood test with the animal.

The test costs around 350 crowns and can practically save a dog’s life thanks to early detection of the disease.

Kulisek survived an infection with anaplasmosis with a severe course.  Labrador Jack, however, succumbed to the disease despite targeted treatment.Kulisek (pictured) survived anaplasmosis infection with a severe course. Labrador Jack, however, succumbed to the disease despite targeted treatmentSource: with the permission of Sonia Kecová

However, Kulíšek’s owner Soňa Kecová does not completely agree with this. “I use antiparasitics that guarantee the death of the attached tick within hours. I spend a considerable amount on them annually,” he shrugs.

“I have three Labradors. For two of them, even such a short time was enough for them to become infected with anaplasmosis and have a severe course. Kulíšek survived, but the signal dog Jack unfortunately lost his fight,” Soňa Kecová states sadly. However, she says that if his death was to help raise awareness of anaplasmosis and save more dogs, it wouldn’t be in vain.

The worst is out, but…

Kulisek is probably already out of the worst. He survived severe anaplasmosis. But he certainly hasn’t won yet.

“It was stressful for all of us – four months of uncertainty and fear. Unfortunately, those concerns continue. Frequent checkups, injections, infusions, medications, diet and many different examinations. Control blood sampling, SONO of internal organs. But the worst thing is the fear of whether I will have medicine and how I will pay the bills that are increasing,” confides Soňa Kecová in the collection on Donia.

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It is possible to contribute any amount to the collection until the end of May. However, it will probably be extended.

You can also contribute to the treatment by purchasing a T-shirt with the Kulíška motif on the website Cartoon t-shirt. All proceeds will go towards Kulíšek’s treatment.

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