Outbreak of Babesia canis centred around Harlow

Thursday 17th March 2016
ESCCAP UK & Ireland News Item

The current outbreak of Babesia canis is centred around Harlow and there is sufficient evidence there to indicate that Babesia canis has formed an endemic focus of infection in this area. Dog owners in Essex, particularly in Harlow, as well as in adjoining counties need to be aware of the potential for Babesia transmission. It takes at least 24 hours for Babesia canis to be transmitted so owners should check their dogs daily for ticks and remove any found with a tick hook. This can be performed with a simple "twist and pull" motion or by a Veterinary professional if taken to their local practice. Ticks found that appear decorated or have festoons (crimping around the edge of the tick to give a "cornish pasty" appearance) should be placed in a sealed container and taken to a Veterinary professional for identification. Veterinary professionals and owners may also send ticks to Public Health England for identification. Use of a tick preventative product is strongly advised for all dogs currently in this area. Either a product that repels or rapidly kills ticks should be used and use of these products greatly reduces the risk of disease transmission. No product is 100% effective however, so dogs should still be checked daily.

This advice is true for the whole of the UK due to the risk of Lyme disease transmission but is more risk based. So dogs that have had ticks previously or walk in rural areas, or known tick or Lyme disease "hot spots" should also use a tick preventative product and check their pets and themselves for ticks every 24 hours.

In Essex and adjoining counties, dog owners and Veterinary professionals should be vigilant for the clinical signs of babesiosis as delay in treatment can be fatal. Dark red urine, blood in the urine, pale or yellow gums, lethargy, lymphadenopathy and fever are all classic signs of infection.