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COLLABORATION, consensus and consistency will all be key in raising awareness of ticks and tickborne disease in the UK and in promoting best practice in mitigating the problems associated with them. Ways to achieve these were discussed last week at a meeting hosted by MSD Animal Health in Birmingham. Also discussed was whether the veterinary profession should lobby for the reintroduction of compulsory tick treatment for animals entering the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), following the recent referendum on EU membership.
The meeting, which brought together researchers, representatives of the human and animal health sectors and veterinary practitioners, aimed to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and opinion on tickborne disease in both animals and people and to develop a consensus statement on best practice in relation to ticks and tickborne disease.
Among the speakers was veterinary surgeon Ian Wright, who is head of the European Scientific Counsel Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) for the UK and Ireland. Discussing the threat posed by tickborne disease, he noted that a number of tick species in the UK could act as vectors for diseases that were currently exotic to the UK but were found elsewhere in Europe.
Tickborne disease agents were spreading across mainland Europe, he said, with, for example, Babesia canis spreading in Spain, Portugal and France (a popular destination for UK holidaymakers and their pets) and particularly into eastern Europe, from where increasing numbers of rescue dogs were being imported to the UK. Ehrlichia canis was also on the move, with cases being recorded in untravelled animals in France, Germany and Switzerland. Identification of the vectors of these diseases was vital, he said. Not only would this help to keep track of where the vectors were; it …