I woke this morning to hear Chris Packham on the Radio 4 Today programme alerting us to the new threat from the tick-borne pathogen Babesia, which has been reported to have caused disease in four dogs in Essex. The dogs had not been abroad and so it seems that the pathogen has arrived in the UK and in all likelihood will begin to spread across the country. Chris urged dog owners to go to their vet if they find a tick on their dog. This will create opportunities to educate dog owners about ticks (and other parasites) and the risk of disease. It will also be an opportunity to encourage preventive measures, including the use of products containing acaricides and tick repellents. I think it's important to be aware that Chris Packham is the celebrity face of the tick awareness campaign sponsored by MSD, a pharmaceutical company which will be at least as interested in selling its parasiticide products as it is in increasing awareness of tick-borne diseases.
The parasite specialists, ESCCAP recommend a risk-based approach to managing parasites in cats and dogs. This means using parasiticide drugs rationally, according to need. Assessing need can be done by asking dog owners a few simple questions. The big challenge is that there is a huge range of parasiticide products to choose from and very intense promotion of a few of these. Veterinary Prescriber aims to help put vets in charge of decisions about product choice by giving access to information on the whole range of products through the unique, independent Parasiticide Guide and, over the coming months, practical modules on using parasiticides rationally.