Australian scientists are calling on veterinarians and dog-owners to take action to protect dogs and people from potentially lethal diseases caused by ticks, fleas and sand flies.
Ticks, mosquitoes, fleas and, in some countries, sand flies are critical in the transmission of diseases to both dogs and humans, including life-threatening conditions such as Lyme Disease, Leishmaniasis and Ehrlichiosis.
Professor Peter Irwin from the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at Murdoch University, Western Australia, says that CVBDs (canine vector borne diseases) that were once considered exotic or unusual, are now spreading thanks to the increase in pet travel and, in part, to changes in climate.
“Many people think these parasites are just an unpleasant but harmless nuisance, but far from it. The diseases they spread pose a real threat to the health of dogs and humans. An important prevention measure for dogs from CVBDs is to ensure they are treated with an effective, repellent insecticide to minimise the risk of disease transmission.”
Veterinarians are often the first responders, from an animal and public health perspective, to see evidence of their spread, but may not recognise the symptoms or fully understand the public health ramification of these diseases.
“Because of their close proximity to humans and their susceptibility to infection, dogs are uniquely poised to function as a sentinel for human disease risks from tick-borne pathogens. Veterinarians should be educated about owner risks when these infections are diagnosed in dogs, and should take an active role in explaining risks to clients,” Professor Irwin said.
“People who find ticks on their dogs should be aware that such events can signal a personal risk of exposure to themselves and their families, even if human tick bites have not been recognised.”
Source: Bayer Animal Health