Tick transmitted babesiosis - a letter to our clients
We wanted to email you and all of our clients who own dogs in response to the recent newspaper and TV news articles about a disease called babesiosis, which appears to have infected 4 dogs in Harlow, Essex.
Babesiosis is a pretty nasty disease which is transmitted by tick bites (in a similar way to how malaria is transmitted by mosquito bites). It generally causes a high temperature and a very marked reduction in the number of red blood cells (anaemia) which is unfortunately sometimes fatal.
We do not expect to see the disease in the UK and traditionally we have always considered it a problem that we would only ever expect to be a risk for dogs that have travelled abroad. The change now is that the dogs that were affected in Essex had not been abroad. This is a worrying change, but it is important to remember that this is still a very rare problem.
Currently, we do not recommend tick treatment for all dogs in our area as ticks are very rare in North London and using tick treatment would mean an additional medication regularly for all of the dogs we see. However, we are going to keep a close eye on the situation and if the situation develops, our advice may change. We will, of course, keep you informed if this happens.
For the time being, if you are travelling with your dog to Essex or out of urban centres (or to areas with lots of deer), please let us know and we will be able to advise you on some additional measures that we can take to reduce the chance of tick bites and of your dog contracting babesiosis.
As always, if you have any questions at all, please ask.
Dr.Oli (the vet), Oli (the nurse), Adriana and Krissy (your Finchley Vet team)