British pets are bringing deadly ticks home from holidays abroad

Rens Hageman
Rens Hageman

British pets are bringing deadly ‘exotic’ ticks to the UK after going on holiday to Europe on pet passports, vets have warned

Metro reports that while it may seem nice to take your pet on holiday with you, there could be disastrous results. The deadly tick-born Encephalitis can cause animals to die agonising deaths and has been identified as one of the key culprits. The disease, which isn’t present in the UK, can infect the brain, cause awful tremors, seizures and in some cases death. It is carried by the Rhipicephalus sanguineus - also known as the brown dog tick or kennel tick. Vets are seeing increasing numbers of cases of kennel tick brought in after foreign holidays - notably from Spain, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria. Now they are warning pet owners to be aware of the risks and take precautions before travelling abroad with their animals this summer. Ian Wright, a veterinary surgeon and the UK and Ireland head of the none-profit group of European vets specialising in parasitology, said there was a clear link between new parasites coming to the UK and pet passports. He said: "Since the relaxation of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) there has been an increase in dogs travelling with their owners year on year as well as a rapidly increasing number of imported rescue dogs from countries where stray pet welfare is an issue such as Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. This has led to an increased number of exotic parasites from these countries coming into the UK, including ticks and tick-borne diseases. New tick-borne pathogens such as Babesia canis have established in existing UK tick populations in Essex, but new ticks such as Rhipicephalus sanguineus have also been reported and established infestations in UK homes. A major concern is that tick-borne diseases which can cause serious human health problems such as tick-borne encephalitis could enter the UK and infect ticks here, putting people at risk." Last year 287,000 dogs travelled abroad with their owners and one study found 76 per cent of dogs returning to the UK were carrying ticks. The European Scientific Counsel for Companion Animal Parasites has identified the link between pet passports and more foreign ticks in the UK. The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) allows pet owners in the UK to take their dogs and cats to other European countries and then return with them without need for quarantine. It also allows pet dogs and cats to enter the UK without quarantine as long as they comply with the regulations. The scheme requires pets to have a rabies vaccination to keep the UK free of the fatal disease which still infects some domestic pets in Italy and Greece. But in January 2012 compulsory tick treatment was removed from the PET travel scheme. (Story source: Metro)

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