Is your Dog Protected Against Babesiosis?

A deadly disease carried by ticks, babesiosis, has been found in the UK for the first time in dogs that have not travelled to Europe. The disease, Babesia canis is a microscopic parasite carried by Dermacentor reticulatus ticks and has caused an outbreak of babesiosis in Essex. It is feared this disease could spread further afield.

A deadly disease carried by ticks, babesiosis, has been found in the UK for the first time in dogs that have not travelled to Europe.
A deadly disease carried by ticks, babesiosis, has been found in the UK for the first time in dogs that have not travelled to Europe.

The tick Dermacentor reticulatus is mostly found in the south west of England and Wales, though has also been found in other parts of the UK including Essex. It is likely that the parasite which causes babesiosis will spread to other areas of the UK where its host tick is found.

“It is concerning that babesiosis has been diagnosed for the first time in the UK in dogs that have not travelled from overseas nor had contact with pets that have travelled - and dog owners will understandably be feeling anxious about the reported cases. Prevention is always better than cure and we’d recommend that owners discuss year-round parasite control, including tick prevention treatments, with their local vet. BVA lobbied hard against the relaxing of controls under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, which included removing the requirement for tick treatment to prevent diseases such as babesiosis being introduced into the country, and it is disappointing to see our concerns potentially becoming a reality.” - British Veterinary Association.

The Babesia parasite invades the red blood cells of the dog and the following signs can be seen:

  • Weakness
  • Pale gums
  • Red to brown coloured urine
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Weight loss
  • Life-threatening anaemia

Ticks may carry other serious diseases such as Lyme disease (borreliosis) which is a bacterial disease of dogs and people, and is a growing problem in the UK. In dogs, Lyme disease may cause lameness, fever, anorexia, lethargy, swollen joints and rarely kidney failure.

There is a misconception that any diseases the tick is carrying passes straight to the dog, once the tick has attached to feed. Transmission times do vary but are most commonly documented as being within 24–48 hours after feeding starts, so it is important to use a product that will kill ticks as soon as possible. It is possible to remove ticks without causing problems for the pet, if care and a correct procedure is followed.

Douglas Palmer BVMS MRCVS, Norbrook’s Veterinary Advisor recommends that "If you find a tick on your dog do not be tempted to use Vaseline or to try to burn the tick off – techniques like this may cause the tick to vomit and increase the risk of transmission of these serious diseases. Instead use an appropriate tick removing tool available from your veterinary surgeon, pet shop or farm store and make sure you know how to use it properly, so the head of the tick is not separated from the body. For an easy and convenient solution to tick problems, Fiproclear Spot On offers cost effective choice for tick control".

Fiproclear comes in a variety of dosages to treat all sizes and breeds of dogs and cats
"Fiproclear comes in a variety of dosages to treat all sizes and breeds of dogs and cats"

Fiproclear offers protection against the Demacentor reticulatus tick for up to four weeks. In addition to this, Fiproclear – Spot on offers protection against Rhipicephalus sanguineus (the brown dog tick) for three weeks which can spread babesia canis in tropical and sub-tropical countries (and so should be considered if your dog travels abroad with you), and Ixodes ricinus (the castor bean tick) for up to two weeks. As with all tick spot-on treatments ticks are not prevented from attaching to the animal, however the product will kill ticks within the first 24-48 hours of attachment, prior to the most likely period for disease transmission to occur.

Fiproclear also offers flea protection for up to eight weeks showing immediate insecticidal effect and persistent activity against new infestations of adult fleas.

Fiproclear comes in a variety of dosages to treat all sizes and breeds of dogs and cats, however, the product should not be used on puppies or kittens of less than eight weeks of age. The product comes in clear pipettes so that you can see that you’ve given your dog or cat their full protection.

If you suspect your dog has babesiosis or is showing some of the symptoms outlined above, or you are concerned that your pet could be at risk of contracting the disease, please do not hesitate to contact your veterinary practice. Although the disease can be prevented through the use of tick protection products if you believe your dog may have already contracted the disease then they will require urgent veterinary attention.

More information can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35815813