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What is the risk of tickborne diseases to UK pets?
  1. John S. P. Tulloch, BVetMed, MSc, DipRN, MRCVS
  1. NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections, University of Liverpool, UK
  1. E-mail: john.tulloch{at}

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At this time of year many animal owners will be finding ticks on their pets and themselves, highlighting the One Health risk that tickborne diseases pose.1 The study by Wright and others,1 summarised on p 514 of this week’s issue of Vet Record, which uses data collected by Public Health England’s (PHE) Tick Surveillance Scheme (TSS) (, stands out as a fantastic example of what can be achieved when a One Health surveillance approach is adopted.1

The TSS is well supported by the veterinary profession, who have submitted 46.8 per cent of all ticks received by the scheme.2 Their work provides a solid evidence base that enables the veterinary profession to offer sound advice to clients and the general public. It is important that such coordinated surveillance schemes continue to be supported and funded. However, there is a large hole in our knowledge of tickborne diseases in companion animals and the actual incidence of clinical disease.

Wright and others1 describe where clinical examinations for ticks should be focused, the range of tick species found and the seasonality of exposure.1 By combining their findings with other work displaying the geographic distribution of ticks, the study findings contribute to our understanding of expanding tick distribution in the UK.2–4 Together these studies describe the native tick species that are the most prevalent in the UK (predominately Ixodes ricinus and Ixodes hexagonus). With such information available on geographical and seasonal spread, vets should no longer say: ‘This is the wrong time of year for ticks’ or ‘This isn’t a tick area’.

Pet owners are one and a half times more likely to be bitten by a tick than non-pet owners.5 This risk extends beyond rural areas as it is now well established that exposure can …

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  • Disclaimer John Tulloch is funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections at University of Liverpool in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health or Public Health England.

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