Ticks are twice as common as hamsters in UK homes!
This summer, newspapers reported about rising flea numbers in the UK due to the mild and wet weather.1 As the days now darken and the central heating goes on, another flush of fleas is a potential risk and in response, vets are quite rightly tightening up on the flea advice that they are giving their clients. The UK contingent of the European Scientific Counsel for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP UK) warns though that in the UK at any one time, 1.2 million dogs will have a tick. Put another way – over 930,000 households in the UK are likely to have ticks as lodgers, making them nearly twice as popular as hamsters!2 With this is mind, it is clear that protection against ticks must not be ignored in the determination to combat fleas.
Typically, ticks have two ‘seasons’ in the UK – a first wave in Spring and another between August and November. Ixodes spp. are most commonly seen in this country, but there are increasing reports of European ticks being found on animals seen in practice.3 This is worrying when these ‘foreign’ ticks could potentially be carrying diseases usually only seen on mainland Europe and also may behave in a less seasonal fashion compared to our home grown species. If ticks are being noticed in owners’ homes, or in the case of persistent tick problems, species identification should be carried out.
Whilst pet owners are becoming more and more savvy about pet health issues, ticks are often viewed as nothing more than a bit of a nuisance. To avoid potential long-term problems though, pet owners must be educated about correct tick removal methods, effective prophylaxis and the risk of tick borne diseases, both from UK and European species, particularly when there is zoonotic potential. With it being a year since changes were made to the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) that removed the necessity to treat for ticks and with the potential risks from these foreign species, the importance of tick control whilst travelling with pets cannot be understated.
There is a wealth of independent and impartial information, advice and guidelines available on the ESCCAP UK website for veterinary professionals (www.esccapuk.org.uk/professionals.php). Factsheets, therapeutics guides and practice materials are just some of the resources that ESCCAP has produced to assist vets in educating their clients about effectively preventing and tackling parasite infestations. ESCCAP UK is also active on Twitter (@ESCCAP_UK), providing reliable advice and up to date parasite related developments, including those regarding the Pets Travel Scheme (PETS). To ensure that owners have a point of reference and to re-iterate advice given by vets, ESCCAP has also developed a pet owner website (www.esccapuk.org.uk/petowners.php) and Twitter feed (@PetParasites).
With changes to how common parasites like ticks are behaving and pet owners being more and more educated about the health issues facing their pets, vets need to ensure that they remain at the forefront of developments and current recommendations. As well as the website and Twitter feeds, ESCCAP UK will also be at the London Vet Show (stand H2B). Drop by for a chat and to find out more fascinating facts from the ESCCAP UK ‘Everyday Parasites’ poster.
About ESCCAP UK
The European Scientific Counsel for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) was formed in 2005. It is an independent, not for profit organisation, comprising a group of eminent veterinarians across Europe all with recognised expertise in the field of parasitology. ESCCAP is dedicated to providing access to clear and constructive information for veterinarians and pet owners with the aim of strengthening the animal human bond. It works to provide the knowledge essential to help eradicate parasites in pets and the objective is to have a Europe where parasites are no longer a health issue for pets or humans.
ESCCAP UK is the UK national association of ESCCAP and brings together some of the UK’s leading experts in the field of veterinary parasitology. ESCCAP UK works with pet owners and veterinary/animal care professionals to raise awareness of the threat from parasites and to provide UK relevant information and advice.
For more information, please contact ESCCAP UK Tel: 01684 568998, Fax: 05603 102013, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Medical and Veterinary Entomology (2011), doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2915.2011.00954.x Prevalence, distribution and risk associated with tick infestation of dogs in Great Britain F D Smith, R Ballantyne, E R Morgan, R Wall. Figures on pet population PFMA statistics 2012