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News – Babesiosis in the UK

 

Many of you will have heard about recent confirmed cases of canine babesiosis in the UK. Canine babesiosis is a serious parasitic infection transmitted via ticks. These cases (the first to have been diagnosed in the UK in dogs that had not recently been abroad) were in Essex, so whilst babesiosis is not currently in the Yorkshire/Nottinghamshire area, it is important to be aware of the condition, as it could travel across the UK.

Babesiosis is a tick-borne disease, caused by a small single-celled parasite (protozoa). It is transmitted via the blood stream when a tick has attached itself to its host, and taken a blood meal from a dog. The parasite enters canine red blood cells, and rapidly spreads throughout the blood stream. Without prompt recognition and therapy, it can be fatal. 

Signs of canine babesiosis include, though are not limited to: lethargy, inappetance, weight loss, pallor of the gums, a high temperature, yellowing/jaundice of the mucous membranes and skin, abdominal distension and red/brown pigmented urine. If you notice your dog exhibiting any of these signs, particularly with a history of recent tick exposure, it is paramount that you take him/her to the vet as soon as possible. The earlier the infection is diagnosed, the higher the chance of your pet making a full recovery. 

As usual, prevention is always better than the cure. Canine babesiosis can be prevented by using appropriate tick preventative techniques, such as regular tick control using licensed medications, and prompt removal of any ticks found on your dog. It is a good idea to examine your dog for ticks after walking in woodland or hedgerow areas, as ticks tend to be found in heavy vegetation.

RemovingTick

Removing ticks within 24 hours of them attaching to your dog reduces the risk of transmission of infection. 

Removing a tick can be tricky, and it is easy to leave the mouthparts of the tick behind. This can cause irritation or infection locally at the site of the bite. Special tick removers can be bought from most veterinary practices which help to make removal easier. It is a good idea to wear gloves, and dispose of the tick hygienically (so it can’t reattach or lay eggs). 

If you need any information or advice with regard to tick removal, and tick preventative medicine, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help!