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Experts Call for Parasite Prevention Planning for Travelling Dogs

27 May 2016

UK - UK vets are being encouraged to address the growing risk tick-borne diseases pose to the health of animals in the UK.

Following cases of Babesiosis recorded in Essex earlier this year, experts are advising vets to speak to pet owners about the parasite populations present in their local area, as well as future holiday destinations, including those within the UK.

Dr Ian Wright, UK head of the European Scientific Council for Companion Animal Parasites, said: “Babesiosis is usually found in mainland Europe but it’s presence in the UK is now a major concern for animal health. Although it will be almost impossible to stop its spread, pet owners travelling across the country with their pets may help accelerate the spread of the parasite from the south, underlying the need for greater awareness of the need to protect our pets. As we’ve seen with the lungworm parasite, the ability for serious diseases to spread northwards to become endemic in the UK is a worrying possibility.”

The BVA’s current advice, as published in their Animal Welfare Foundation literature, recommends pet owners discuss the use of preventative treatment for parasites with their vet before travelling abroad. It may also now be advisable to consider this before holidaying within the UK.

Jenny Helm, University of Glasgow Veterinary Clinician, commented: "Best practice currently recommends preventative treatment to protect pets against ticks, sandflies, heartworm and tapeworm whilst abroad. However, as seen with recent cases, there is justification to extend these guidelines for some of the parasites to include pets travelling within the UK. In recent years I have noticed and been made aware from owners and other vets, of a steady rise in tick numbers across the country. With this there is an increased risk of tick-borne diseases being transmitted to pets. However, if a tick can be killed before it bites, this avoids the risk and provides vital protection to the pet".

Tick Bite Prevention Month will highlight the importance of using preventative treatments to stop ticks biting, as a way to both protect animal health and help minimise the spread of vector-borne diseases. Both Seresto and Advantix provide acaricidal (killing) and repellent (anti-feeding activity) against ticks, helping to stop parasites from taking a blood meal and thereby reducing the risk of vector-borne diseases (VBDs).

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