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Babesiosis – an emerging disease in dogs

Recently five cases of Babesiosis have been confirmed in dogs in Essex. Sadly two dogs died. Significantly none of the dogs had travelled abroad. Babesiosis is present on the continent and it is feared that the infection is now establishing in Britain.

Babesiosis is caused by a parasite called Babesia that infects red blood cells. Dogs become infected when they are bitten by a tick carrying the parasite. Affected dogs become seriously ill as the parasite causes the dog’s immune system to attack its own red blood cells. Symptoms include pale gums, fever, rapid breathing, lethargy and weight loss.

So far all the reported cases are in Essex in the Harlow area. Ticks retrieved from fields near Harlow have been found to be carrying the parasite. On the positive side, the type of tick that has been found carrying the parasite (shown below) is not common in the UK and is not reported in our region.

Products are available that greatly reduce the risk of a dog becoming infected with ticks. We recommend the use of Seresto collars for tick prevention. It is important to remember that only a very small number of dogs have been affected and so far the disease has only been reported in Essex.

If you have questions about Babesiosis and how to protect your pet, or if you are concerned your pet may have been infected, then please contact us.


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