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VETS and pet owners need to be more aware of the risks posed by ticks and tickborne diseases and of the measures available for prevention. In the meantime, more research is needed into tickborne diseases and the dynamics of infection, and surveillance and monitoring needs to be improved.
These were among messages to emerge from a two-day symposium on challenges for vets in the control of ticks and tickborne diseases, held in Budapest in last October. Organised by the animal health company Merial, the meeting brought together experts from around the world to discuss the situation primarily in Europe but also further afield. From a UK perspective the meeting was timely because, with changes to the Pet Travel Scheme from January 1 this year, the mandatory requirement for animals to be treated against ticks immediately before entering the country has now been removed.
Frédéric Beugnet, global technical director of parasitology and parasiticides at Merial, was one of several speakers at the symposium to note that the distribution of ticks was changing. There were a number of possible reasons for this, including changing travel patterns, with increased movements of people and animals, and increased interest in outdoor leisure pursuits, with, for example, people spending more time in woodland habitats where ticks might thrive. There were also changes in wildlife distribution, with increased numbers of foxes and wild deer, as well as changes in climate.
He described how mathematical modelling using meteorological data had been used to produce a tick activity index, indicating areas of Europe in which ticks could be expected to survive and infect dogs. Analysis of data for four French cities (Nimes, Lyon, …
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