Urgent advice for pet owners as health experts warn of spread of Lyme Disease across the UK
NewsMonday 13 May 2013
Watch our video for advice from David Bellamy on how to spot potentially deadly ticks on your dog and how to keep yourself and your family safe
As experts warn of the rapid spread of Lyme disease across the UK because of an increase in ticks, protests and public events are taking place around the world, including at Whitehall, to illustrate the lack of awareness about the disease and how it is spreading here.
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the Northern Hemisphere and there are concerns in the UK about the lack of public awareness, given recent warnings by leading animal health experts and parasitologists about a considerable increase in the disease-carrying tick parasite, posing a growing health threat to humans and their pets.
The tick parasite which is commonly found in long grass and areas of dense vegetation, attaches itself to dogs, cats and humans. In the past, ticks were only considered a hazard in select parts of Britain at particular times of year. But because of our changing climate they are now prevalent year-round, across the country.
Lyme disease in humans has increased threefold over the past decade, with up to 3,000 cases of Lyme Disease estimated to occur every year in people in England & Wales according to The Health Protection Agency.
A recent study from Bayer Animal Health as part of their ongoing ‘It’s a Jungle Out There’ parasite awareness initiative reveals that more than one in ten pet owners surveyed have found ticks on themselves or a family member, and that 53% of pets are not treated for this parasite.
The tick parasite uses highly developed mouthparts to pierce the skin and feed on the blood of its host. In humans, the first sign of Lyme Disease is commonly a circular rash around the area of the bite, and symptoms include fever, muscle and joint pain, tiredness and headaches.
So how can you keep your dog, yourself and your family safe?
To help pet owners understand the dangers of ticks and other parasites Bayer Animal Health have produced a series of short films featuring botanist David Bellamy, TV vet Steve Leonard and an array of parasite experts. This video focuses on the risk from ticks;
Pet owners can also find information about the most common parasites in the UK at www.itsajungle.co.uk, where they can complete an online risk assessment. You can help spread the word by liking ‘Jungle for Pets’ on Facebook or by following ‘JungleForPets’ on Twitter.
TICKS: The facts
· A tick is a small, blood sucking arthropod
· Normally ticks live on blood from larger animals, like deer, but they may also attach themselves to dogs, cats and even humans.
· Ixodes ricinus is the most common tick in the UK and Ireland
· Ticks lie in wait in vegetation and attach themselves to their host as it brushes past
· Ticks have highly developed mouthparts, which allow them to pierce a hole through the skin to feed on blood
· They can cause reactions at the site of attachment
· Ticks may cause anaemia if there is a severe infestation on a young animal
· The most important risk associated with ticks is the diseases they can transmit, eg. Lyme Disease in the UK and Ireland.
· Up to 3,000 cases of Lyme Disease are estimated to occur every year in people in England and Wales, according to The Health Protection Agency
· Diseases such as Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis can be transmitted to pets travelling abroad, therefore regular tick treatment of travelling pets is important.