Spring Lodge Veterinary Group in Essex | 24hr Emergency Service

What are the risks of the tick borne disease Babesiosis?

You may have seen the news and radio reports regarding dogs that have contracted the tick-borne disease Babesiosis. (March 2016)

These cases are confined to a small area in Harlow but pet owners are obviously concerned and have been contacting the clinic for advice.

What is Babesiosis?

An engorged female tick

An engorged female tick

Babesiosis in dogs is an infection caused by the single celled parasite called Babesia.

The parasite infects dogs red blood cells which then damages the cells and also causes the bodies own immune system to attack the red blood cells.

This then leads to a severe anaemia which can be life threatening, but can be treatable.

How can my dog contract Babesiosis?

The main way Babesiosis is transmitted to dogs is through tick bites. When an infected tick attaches and starts to feed on a dogs blood a transfer of the parasite occurs. This usually takes place 24 – 48 hours after the tick has attached.

Until recently species of tick found in the UK were very unlikely to carry Babesia, however, with the increase in animal movements throughout Europe the risks of European species of ticks (which carry the disease) entering the UK have increased.

How can it be prevented?

Prevention is based on the regular use of anti-tick products. There are various products on the market and different products will be suitable for different dogs.

Dogs should be checked regularly for ticks, especially after walks. If you see a tick on your dog it should ONLY be removed using a special tick hook.

Our nurses are available to remove any ticks if required. If you do remove a tick on your pet please bring the tick into our surgery so that we can send it away for analysis to identify the type of tick.

At the present time there have only been an isolated number of cases of Babesia in dogs who have all been exercised in the same area of Harlow. As yet, no other cases have been identified from any other area. If any further information is released we will keep our clients updated.

If you require any advice on the types of products to use please contact our surgery and speak to one of our consulting nurses.