We are so sorry to hear about the dogs in Essex who have developed Babesiosis. Here is some information.
What is it?
Babesia is a tiny parasite, spread by a tick called Dermacentor. This tick is uncommon in the UK but has now been identified in a small pocket in Essex. This disease is seen in Western Europe, but has not before been seen in dogs in the UK that have not travelled outside UK borders.
Infection of red blood cells can lead to severe anaemia in dogs. Signs to look out for include lethargy, weakness, pale gums, jaundice, red/brown urine and fever. The infection is life threatening. Ticks are thought to have to be attached to the dog for 24-48 hours to successfully transmit the disease.
Why has it appeared now?
It is likely to be associated with a relaxation of the rules of the Pet Travel Scheme in the UK. The rules changed in 2012 and removed the requirement for dogs entering the UK to be treated against ticks. This was vociferously opposed by the Veterinary profession at the time because of a fear of exactly this type of problem.
Is it likely to spread in the UK?
Can it be treated?
Treatment involves killing the parasite, controlling the body’s immune response and in severe cases blood transfusions may be required.
How do i prevent it?
There are no vaccines available in the UK.
Check and completely remove ticks from your dog after walks.
Ask your Vet to recommend a suitable tick prevention to stop the spread of this sort of tick.
Do humans get it?
No. Humans are not thought to contract canine babesiosis. They can only get the human form which is seen only in the US or other parts of Europe.
What about my cat?
No. Cats and other species are not thought to contract canine babesiosis.
For more information and advice concerning tick control please call us on 01525 373329.