One dog has died from the immune disease and four are seriously ill. The initial outbreak recently happened in Harlow, Essex but there is a danger of it travelling further. One dog has already died and four are seriously ill after they contracted Babesiosis, a blood parasite which causes animals’ immune systems to attack their own blood cells. It is spread by tick bites. It is thought that an infected tick may have been brought into the UK by a dog coming from the continent under the Pet Passport Scheme.
The ticks that spread the disease are not the endemic UK tick (Ixodes ricinus) but a much less common tick (Dermacentor reticulatus) that are rarely found in Britain. Dermacentor spp. ticks are mainly active from the autumn through to spring (ie. over the winter), unlike the common tick (Ixodes ricinus) which is more active over the summer.
Owners should regularly do a thorough body check of their dog to find ticks, which are visible to the naked eye, but can be drawn to dark, hidden areas of the animal’s body such as ears, groin and between the toes. Signs of ticks include dogs excessively scratching or licking a particular area.
If you find a tick, it needs to be removed carefully, ideally using a proper tick removing tool; these are available from the surgery. These remove the whole tick easily.
In addition to being vigilant, a anti-tick product should be used regularly to protect your dog. We recommend BRAVECTO, a tablet that gives THREE MONTHS excellent protection from ticks and also fleas. Please ask for further details.