Ticks are on the march in Britain

Mar 23, 2011
Ticks are on the march in Britain
A map illustrating the prevalence of ticks attaching to dogs in Great Britain

The prevalence of ticks attaching to dogs in Great Britain has been mapped by scientists as part of a national tick survey. The findings reveal that the number of dogs infested with the blood-sucking parasites was much higher than expected.  The study also confirms that a European tick species now exists in Great Britain.

The research, carried out by academics from the University of Bristol’s Veterinary Parasitology Group and published in the journal Medical and Veterinary Entomology, found that at any one time 14.9 per cent of were infested with ticks.

More than 3,500 dogs were examined for ticks at 173 vet practices across Great Britain between March and October 2009.  The researchers found that gundog, terrier and pastoral breed groups were more susceptible to getting ticks than others, and that longer-haired dogs were more susceptible to ticks than short-haired dogs.

Samples of a tick species only found previously in continental Europe were also found in locations in west Wales and south east England, adding to growing evidence that this tick, deemed as ‘exotic’, is now a permanent resident in Great Britain.

Professor Richard Wall, head of the Veterinary Parasitology Group at the University, said: “This is an important study because the results suggest that the risk of tick infestation is far higher in dogs than was previously thought. This has serious implications for the incidence of tick-borne disease. The study also confirms that a non-native species of tick, which is also a major disease vector in Europe, is now established in southern England.  It will be of considerable interest to monitor its spread.”

Dogs can be infected with a number of tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease. A non-native species of tick could help spread new diseases from Europe in the UK.

Current concerns over the potential impacts of changing climate and increased global movement of people and companion animals on the distribution of ectoparasites highlight the need for an accurate understanding of existing prevalence patterns, without which future changes cannot be detected. 

Faith Smith, lead author on the study from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, added: “The study represents a major large-scale analysis of ticks in Britain – and the data could aid work to help predict the effects of climate change on tick distributions and disease spread.”

The study entitled ‘Prevalence, distribution and risk associated with infesting dogs in ’, was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council [NERC] and Merial Animal Health Ltd.

Explore further: Invasive parasitic fly on Galapagos Islands probably came from mainland Ecuador

More information: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2915.2011.00954.x/pdf

Related Stories

Ticks challenge climate theory

Jun 08, 2007

As key players in the spread of disease ticks aren’t exactly man’s best friend but, according to Oxford University scientists, they may offer a vital clue that climate change is not to blame for an upsurge in many human ...

Rhode Island deer tick effort under way

Nov 04, 2005

Thirty tick-killing bait stations have been deployed in Rhode Island for what's believed to be the largest tick control project in the nation.

Recommended for you

Telling the time of day by color

21 hours ago

Research by scientists at The University of Manchester has revealed that the colour of light has a major impact on how the brain clock measures time of day and on how the animals' physiology and behavior adjust accordingly. ...

Aphrodisiac for fish and frogs discovered

Apr 17, 2015

A supplement simply added to water has been shown to boost reproduction in nematodes (roundworms), molluscs, fish and frogs – and researchers believe it could work for humans too.

Evolution puts checks on virgin births

Apr 17, 2015

It seems unnatural that a species could survive without having sex. Yet over the ages, evolution has endowed females of certain species of amphibians, reptiles and fish with the ability to clone themselves, ...

Humans can't resist those puppy-dog eyes

Apr 16, 2015

When humans and their four-legged, furry best friends look into one another's eyes, there is biological evidence that their bond strengthens, researchers report.

Roundworm parasite targets canine eyes

Apr 16, 2015

(HealthDay)—A small number of dogs and cats across the United States have been infected by a roundworm parasite that targets the eye, according to a new report.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 23, 2011
These reports just tick me off.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.