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Babesia canis | Toxocarosis | Hydatid disease | Lyme disease | Echinococcosis

Babesia canis

10/10/17 There has been a case of babesiosis confirmed in an untraveled dog in Milton Keynes. This is the third late summer/Autumn running where untraveled cases have occurred in the vicinity of the Deramacentor focus in a field in Harlow, but like the Romford cases last year, it is currently unknown if this case originated in Harlow or represents further spread of the parasite to a new focus outside of Essex. Either way, it demonstrates that Babesia is still very much a concern in this region, including counties adjoining Essex. Owners and Vets should be vigilant for signs of IMHA including "coffee ground urine", pale mucus membranes, lethargy and collapse. Babesiosis should be considered a differential in these cases for early diagnosis. Tick preventative treatments should also be advised for dogs visiting green space in these counties as well as checking every 24 hours for ticks, removing ticks found and sending decorated ticks for identification at the tick surveillance scheme

03/07/17 Although there have been no recent reports of babesiosis in untraveled dogs in Essex, this paper from PHE demonstrates the potential for infection is still present
Babesia canis was found in Dermacentor ticks collected from the field in Harlow where the outbreak originated but also in one tick from an endemic foci of Dermacentor in Wales. This demonstrates the potential for fresh outbreaks to occur wherever there are endemic pockets of Dermacentor. Babesiosis should now be considered as a differential for IMHA in untraveled UK dogs and tick prevention used for high risk pets.

17/10/16 There has been a new case of babesiosis in an untraveled dog from Romford Essex. The patient was treated at Best Friends Veterinary Group at Romford and thanks to the excellent care and diagnosis received there has recovered. This case is some distance away from the original outbreak in Harlow, raising the possibility of a new focus of infection. PHE are starting to investigating as part of ongoing "one health" cooperation with ESCCAP UK & Ireland and APHA. Veterinary professionals in the area should be aware of the potential for further cases and vigilant for relevant IMHA type signs.

03/08/16. A paper published in the Vet Record this week suggests that there was an increased risk of Babesia transmission in Essex up to and during the recorded outbreak this year. This presents the possibility that there were unpublished cases before the recorded outbreak and possibly a longer standing foci of infected Dermacentor ticks in Essex than we realised. It nicely demonstrates how Veterinary and medical health professionals need to be aware of the possibility of vector borne disease outbreaks and to be including exotic vector borne diseases on their differential lists for relevant clinical signs.

13/05/16. In response to ESCCAP UK & Ireland asking for clarification regarding availability of treatments for babesiosis in the light of the recent outbreak in Essex, the VMD have posted an article outlining the current situation. Treatments for babesiosis in dogs: Availability of treatments for babesiosis in dogs including importation;

16/04/16 - Tick identification - ESCCAP UK & Ireland have received a number of queries regarding where to send ticks for identification. They may be sent to Prof. Cutler who is investigating vector borne pathogens in the UK at.

Sally J. Cutler
Professor of Medical Microbiology,
School of Health, Sport & Bioscience,
University of East London,
Water Lane,
E15 4LZ

or Public health England who are gathering information on the distribution of tick borne disease at.

Tick surveillance scheme
Public Health England 
Porton Down

When sending ticks, they should be placed in a secure clear plastic container before posting. Please visit the Gov.Uk website for further information under "tick surveillance"

It is vitally important in relation to monitoring tick borne disease risk, that we continue to record the location of exotic ticks around the country.


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.


There is a new article on tick prevention products and babesiosis in UK dogs. It is available for subscribers to Veterinary prescriber.



Cormac Power03/10/17 In September over 130 students, including 16 from the School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, presented their summer research posters as part of the Student Summer Research Awards. Included in this was a poster presentation by Cormac Power, on his project on "Prevalence of gastrointestinal and cardio-respiratory parasites in stray dogs & cats in Ireland" that was funded by ESCCAP UK & Ireland.
Of particular note from the results of the study was the high prevalence of Toxocara cati (32%) compared to T.canis (6%), adding to evidence that cats, particularly stray cats are significant contributors of Toxocara ova in the environment with zoonotic potential. Aelurostrongylus was also found in the stray cat population, suggesting it is endemic with the potential for domestic cat exposure.

22/05/17. ESCCAP UK & Ireland is supporting Bristol University in its poo patrol big spray day to highlight the problem of dog fouling. While many approaches have been tried to reduce dog fouling, the solution is likely to reside in increased social cohesion and publicity to make dog fouling socially unacceptable, and increase social pressure for it to stop. By engaging school children, community groups and volunteers, this project is a fantastic first step towards achieving this.

01.06.16. A recent paper published by JSAP on line early view showed 26% prevalence of patent Toxocara cati infection in UK owned but untreated cats. This adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that cats are major contributors to Toxocara ova environmental contamination, making regular deworming of cats and stray cat control through adoption and neutering vital components of human toxocarosis control.

16/04/16 - ESCCAP UK & Ireland is looking forward to working with Cork city council and Barking and Dagenham, in addition to Denbighshire and Guilford  to help promote their anti dog fouling campaigns. In reducing dog fouling, we can help to reduce Toxocara environmental contamination, in combination with promoting regular deworming of dogs and cats. Simple precautions such as good hand hygiene and covering of sandpits when not in use also greatly reduce Toxocara transmission risk to people.

ESCCAP UK & Ireland have contacted 28 councils in England and Wales, offering our services to help with their campaigns encouraging people to pick up their dog's faeces and dispose of it in a responsible way. Although the fight against toxocarosis is multi-faceted with good hygiene, deworming, covering of sandpits etc. all having important roles, picking up dog faeces is a vital part of disease control. By working together we hope to put out a message that is not disproportionately frightening, but rather impresses the need to control the disease while demonstrating that it can be avoided.

Check out this link ( from Denbighshire County Council, alerting the public to the battle against dog fouling and toxocarosis. This type of responsible and accurate dissemination of information to the public is vital if there is to be a significant impact on dog fouling and disease transmission. Councils, Vets and parasitologists all have an important part to play in getting the message across. We’re looking forward to working with Denbighshire Country Council for the campaign.

ESCCAP UK & Ireland have also been contacted by Guildford Borough Council to assist with their dog fouling prevention campaign. More information to follow!


ESCCAP UK & Ireland is supporting BARC (Bag And Remove in Cymru) project which is supervised by Professor Jo Cable at Cardiff University. BARC is a citizen science project that is trying to determine the prevalence of common soil parasites, focusing on Toxocara in particular. This work is vitally important to establish the level of contamination in UK soil, while promoting good practice in picking up and disposal of dog faeces by owners. For more information visit the BARC website and get involved!


Lyme disease

21/08/17 The big tick project and Matt Dawson are doing excellent work with the media to promote the risks of human tick exposure and Lyme disease

12/10/16. Lyme disease is the news again highlighting the risks of infection to pet owners and the wider public. Hany Elsheikha of Nottingham Vet School and ESCCAP UK & Ireland emphasises the importance of early diagnosis and treatment, in humans and pets alike.

02/09/16. The Big Tick Survey results have been publicised and released in the media as part of tick awareness month These results demonstrate the large numbers of ticks that dogs are being exposed to and are likely to generate queries in practice regarding tick-borne disease and control. ESCCAP UK & Ireland have produced an independent consensus tick prevention advice page from across the industry and is available on its website. Increased awareness and consistent advice are important steps in reducing tick-borne disease in dogs and the public.

17/08/16 - ESCCAP UK & Ireland tick and tick borne disease advice consensus statement

ESCCAP UK & Ireland in cooperation with organisations and individuals from across the Veterinary industry have produced a consensus statement regarding tick and tick borne disease prevention. These clear simple guidelines for vets and members of the public are independently written by ESCCAP UK & Ireland with input from Veterinary professionals, parasitology specialists and industry to provide a first important step in giving consistent advice on this vital subject across the profession. » Click here

The consensus statement is currently supported by the following individuals and organisations and is an open and expanding list.

NOAH have added their support which is a significant step in a cross industry approach to tick control

Dogs Trust
NOAH (National Office of Animal Health)
Dr G Ravetz (BVA and Denplan)
Dr C Reay (Blue Cross)
Dr S Keyte (University of Bristol)
Dr A Threlfall (Davies Veterinary Specialists)
Dr S Tappin (Dick White Referrals)
Prof H Elsheikha (University of Nottingham)
Prof M Betson (University of Surrey)
Dr A Vawer (Downland Veterinary Group)
Dr A Radford (SAVSNet)
Dr J Tulloch (University of Liverpool)
Dr S Bignall
Dr K Murphy (Highcroft Veterinary Referrals)
Dr N Morris (Malthouse Vterinary Surgery)
Prof R Wall (University of Bristol)
Dr S Pearson (Lyme Disease Action)
Dr P Sands (Scarsdale Veterinary Group)
Dr Ian Hopkins (Willows Veterinary Group)

05/07/16. The MSD big tick project results are out! While Lyme disease prevalence in Ixodes ticks does not appear to have increased much in the past five years (the study found a prevalence in ticks of 2.7%), overall tick numbers have increased, suggesting that the increase in human Lyme disease incidence may be linked to exposure to increased tick numbers or changes in lifestyle. Out of 56 dogs checked for ticks within 2 weeks post travel abroad, 13 were found to be carrying Rhipicephalus sanguineus, suggesting that the risk of this significant disease vector being introduced to the UK is increasing.

19/05/16. Jo Cable and the BARC project have posted an excellent article on how to keep yourself and your dog safe from Lyme disease and babesiosis!news/r597h. It highlights that with a few simple steps, the risks of tick borne disease transmission can be significantly reduced.

Kirkham Scouts14/05/16.
A big thank you to 2nd Kirkham Scouts for inviting ESCCAP UK & Ireland to speak on keeping scouts and their pets safe from Lyme disease. We have donated tick removers to the group as they prepare to enjoy the countryside this spring and summer. The key message to Scouts, pets owners and the wider public is that it takes at least 24 hours for Lyme disease to be transmitted after ticks bite so daily checking for ticks and prompt removal will help to reduce the risks of transmission, as well as covering up in the undergrowth and treating dogs with a product that rapidly kills or repels ticks.

29/04/16 - Ian Wright on BBC News

ESCCAP UK & Ireland's Ian Wright appearance on the BBC News channel to discuss ticks.

29/04/16. Tick borne diseases continue to be in the news with concern that they may be spread by bank holiday travel.


Dog owners warned about taking pets on Bank Holiday breaks over deadly diseases risk

ESCCAPUK & Ireland's advice is that dog owners travelling to or from Essex should talk to their vet about tick preventative products, given the recent outbreak of babesiosis. They should also check their dog at least every 24 hours for ticks and any found removed with a tick hook. This is also true for dogs and owners planning to visit beautiful but also possibly high tick/Lyme disease areas such as pasture, bracken and deer woodlands. Discuss with your Vet the risk factors associated with tick exposure, Lyme disease and babesiosis transmission to see what preventative treatments might be required and will suit your pet.

28/04/16. Hany Elsheikha has published an interesting article on Lyme disease This disease continues to receive media attention so Vet practices are likely to receive queries from worried pet owners. Confirmed human cases continue to rise year on year in the UK with Public Health England reporting another rise in 2015. This in part will be due to increased awareness but also a genuine increase in incidence so accurate prevention advice needs to be given for pets and the public to reduce disease, while not causing undue alarm.


Lyme disease: a ticking time bomb

How a microbe from the ice age could wreck your life - and how to protect yourself.


12/04/16. Figures from the PDSA have hit the press over the past week, raising concerns about an apparent sharp rise in Lyme disease in dogs.

Although this is interesting data and any rise in cases is of real concern, it should be interpreted in the light of increased awareness and reporting over the last 7 years. Also the data includes suspected as well as confirmed cases. It will take a larger study or a number of different data sets before we know if this a consistent upward trend of infection in dogs.


03/07/15. A celebrity case of Lyme disease ( will certainly raise public awareness of Lyme disease across the British Isles. Vets and nurses should be prepared to field questions on the risk to clients and their dogs. Although this is a case from the US, the incidence of UK Lyme disease in the human population is rising year on year. Dogs are also being exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi infection so it's important clients are given the correct advise to keep themselves and their pets safe.


05/07/15. Interesting post on Lyme disease demonstrating the versatility of Borrelia burgdorferi and persistence in its host Emphasises the need for adequate control measures to prevent infection and potential disease in dogs and people. Early detection and treatment of Lyme disease is also vital to avoid escalating immune mediated problems as the disease progresses


Michael Lappin and Simon Tappin gave and excellent BSAVA lecture on Lyme disease in the US and UK. While we are not seeing the volume of cases in UK dogs that are seen in the US, the number of human cases in the UK are going up. We also know that UK dogs are being exposed to borrelia infected ticks. The bulk of transmission occurs 24-70 hours after attachment so isoxazoline tablets are a good option to aid prevention in dogs as well as pyrethroid repellents. Let's also remember to check our pets and ourselves after walking and to remove any ticks with a tick hook to help prevent transmission.


Another high profile case of Lyme disease is sure to raise public awareness in the UK It shows how easy it is to miss with non specific clinical signs sometimes being mistaken for other illnesses. Although cases are rising in the UK, sensible precautions such as covering exposed skin in contact with grass and scrubland and checking yourself for ticks every 24 hours as well as your pet, will greatly reduce the risk of disease transmission.


Interest in Lyme disease continues to rise with press reports suggesting that UK cases are on the rise and could occur between people and through blood transfusions While infection from a blood transfusion could occur there has never been a documented case, there is no evidence of person to person transmission and cases in the UK are still low. So, while it is important to check for ticks after walking and use preventative treatments in at risk pets, the overall risk should be kept in proportion.


More tick borne disease news has hit the press with the discovery of another Borrelia spp in the UK which can cause disease in people. While this is concerning and warrants monitoring and further research, their have been very few human cases recorded in the UK to date and so needs to be kept in perspective. Daily surveillance and removal of ticks will greatly reduce the transmission off all Borrelia spp, as will the routine use of a tick preventative product in at risk dogs.


23/04/17 - 960 lambs from the Isle of Wight over the last 3 months had at least 5% liver condemnations from each load (of approx 100 lambs) and in the worst case 25% of livers condemned due to cysts from the tapeworm Taenia hydatigena. This is reflective of the whole UK which saw the FSA record 548,000 liver condemnations in 2015. This represents a shocking and preventable economic loss to the sheep farming industry and is also a concern as Echinoocccus granulosus has similar risk factors for transmission in dogs to T.hydatigena.

22/04/17. The risks of Echinococcus granulosus spreading across the UK via abattoirs and possibly entering dog populations outside of its Welsh heartlands were recently emphasised at the VHPA conference Deworming of dogs every 4-6 weeks in known endemic areas remains vital to reduce zoonotic risk, but this should also be considered in dogs living outside these areas that have access to raw offal, ruminant carcasses or unprocessed raw diets. Dogs with these lifestyle risks should be treated at least 4 times a year, and possibly monthly depending on the level of risk. Monthly deworming in high risk dogs, combined with responsible disposal of dog faeces, keeping dogs on a lead around livestock and where possible, preventing dogs from eating unprocessed raw meat and offal will reduce zoonotic risk, while also helping to reduce the huge economic losses sustained by the sheep farming industry each year through carcass and offal condemnation.

The presence of the cattle strain of Echinococcus granulosus (Echinococcus artleppi) in Abattoirs across the country suggests a zoonotic risk outside of traditional Echinococcus granulosus endemic areas. While the cattle strain carries less zoonotic potential than the sheep strain, there is still some risk of transmission to people from dogs that consume offal from carcasses or raw food preparations. Therefore we would recommend de-worming these dogs with praziquantel at least every 3 months, and every 6 weeks if in high risk areas for the sheep strain such as Herefordshire, mid wales and the Western isles of Scotland.