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BASC are warning dog owners of a tick-borne disease which is likely to spread around the UK.

Canine Babesiosis attacks blood cells causing lethargy, weakness, pale gums, weight loss, jaundice, fever and can lead to death if left untreated. It does not pass to humans.

Ticks carrying the disease have so far only been found in a small area of Essex, but vets fear a wider outbreak is inevitable of a condition previously restricted to mainland Europe.

There are no vaccines for the malaria-like disease. Anti-tick medication can stop the spread of the ticks, and if ticks are physically removed from animals in the first 24 hours then transmission of the single-cell babesia parasite can be prevented.

BASC’s scientific advisor Dr Matt Ellis said: “The cases seen in the UK in the last few months highlight that after a warm, wet winter ticks are active earlier than ever.

“Dog owners should be encouraged to take steps to protect their animals effectively from tick bites. If people are unclear of what action they can take, they should speak with their vets.”

While BASC does not endorse products and can not provide advice on the safest preventative medications for individual dogs, vet Rosie MacDiarmid said: “Frontline or other fipronil containing products can be used, as can Advantix. A Seresto collar lasts eight months, although ticks already on a dog are not killed immediately. Bravecto tablets last 12 weeks and ticks are killed within 12 hours of attaching.”

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