There are a number of diseases present on mainland Europe that can affect pets, which we do not currently see in this country. The most important of these is rabies, and the Pet Travel Scheme is in place so that we do not introduce rabies to the UK with pets returning from travels abroad. It is also necessary to treat pets for a tapeworm that we do not have here, before pets can come back to the UK. Both rabies and the tapeworm are a serious risk to human health and this is primarily why the scheme is in place.
However, there are other diseases that your pet could contract when abroad and we recommend that owners take precautions to avoid these too. These diseases are not significantly harmful to humans, but they can make your pet ill. These are ‘vector-spread’ diseases that can be transmitted to your pet via sand flies, ticks and mosquitoes. They are primarily present in southern Europe where the climate is warmer.
- Sand Flies: Leishmaniasis
- Mosquitoes: Heartworm
- Ticks: Babesiosis and Erlichiosis
Treatment of these diseases is very difficult, often involving drugs not normally available in the UK. Heartworm is a particularly severe disease that can result in death. It is far better to try to avoid getting these diseases in the first place. If you are travelling to southern Europe it is recommended that contact with sand flies, ticks and mosquitoes should be minimised by doing the following things:
- Keep pets indoors from an hour before dusk to an hour after sunrise.
- Use a sandfly repellent treatment – see the vet for advice.
- There is a vaccination available against Leishmaniasis – please see the vet for details.
- Avoid mosquito infested areas.
- Use a mosquito repellent – though these are not fully effective and should not be relied upon – see the vet for advice.
- Additionally a product should be used to prevent heartworm infection, starting before travelling continuing until a month after returning home – see the vet for advice.
- Avoid tick habitats such as wooded areas and livestock areas.
- Check animals daily and remove any ticks found.
- Use a product which kills ticks, starting before travelling and continuing when away.
Please see the vet before you travel to discuss the most appropriate plan for your pet. If you have any questions relating to anything above or have any questions in general please contact us at the surgery.