Potential risk posed by the importation of ticks into the UK on animals: records from the Tick Surveillance Scheme

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Abstract

In order to monitor important tick vectors in the UK, Public Health England’s Tick Surveillance Scheme (TSS) receives specimens from across the country for identification. In recent years, an increasing number of these specimens have been removed from animals with a recent history of travel outside the UK. This paper presents all data collated by the TSS on ticks entering the country on recently travelled or imported animals since surveillance commenced in 2005. Ten different tick species representing six different genera were identified, entering the UK from 15 different countries. Key themes appear to be emerging from the last 10 years of data, including canine travel from Cyprus and Spain being associated with Rhipicephalus sanguineus importation, and canine travel from France being associated with the importation of multiple tick species and canine illness. In addition, more unusual importation routes have been uncovered, such as the importation of Hyalomma lusitanicum on a dog. Some companion animal owners may not be fully aware of the risks associated with ticks, and may not seek advice from a veterinarian before travel or importing a pet. Promoting awareness of ticks and tickborne disease risk during and after travel or animal importation is needed and veterinarians play an importation role in disseminating this information to their clients.

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