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New tick-borne disease, canine babesiosis, found in the UK

If your dog has or had ticks and you are concerned for the health of your dog, please contact a vet immediately. 

Scientists at University of Bristol conducting the Big Tick Project say recent confirmed cases of Babesia canis in four dogs in Essex that had not travelled abroad, have increased the need for surveillance of tick-borne disease in the UK.

Dog owner Hollie Wilson’s dream French holiday with husband Craig and two dogs Olive and Badger turned into a nightmare when Olive, a pointer, was bitten by a tick. Within days, Olive’s condition had deteriorated and it was clear that she was becoming seriously unwell. On arrival back in the UK, the Wilson’s rushed their dog to their vet and after extensive tests, canine babesiosis, suspected by the vet on duty that day who had seen the disease in her native Poland, was confirmed.

Hollie says: “Her gums were completely white and she was anaemic. The race was on to find the recommended drug treatment and there was a lot of ringing round before she could finally be treated.

“I can honestly say without all the help from our vets, Olive would not be here today. It was due to their persistence in finding she had babesiosis and how Olive was treated so quickly, that she has made a full recovery.

“Looking back, losing Olive to babesiosis would have been heart-breaking. 

“Back then, I probably wasn't aware so much of the risks of tick-borne disease before all this happened and was probably a bit naive as to where these risks were found. However I am most definitely aware of the dangers carried by ticks now! 

“I think my message is to talk to your vet and find a tick treatment that is effective for your dog and ensure you use it on a regular basis as you never know which tick is infected. Although Lyme disease is well documented I am all too well aware now of the risk of other diseases that can be life threatening such as babesiosis. Seeing the disease being carried in ticks in the UK is extremely worryingly as a dog owner and more needs to be done through campaigns such as The Big Tick Project to raise awareness.”

For information on canine Babesiosis, please click here.