Ticks and tick-borne diseases: a roundtable discussion.
Both ticks endemic to the UK and exotic tick species are important as vectors of a variety of pathogens causing diseases in companion animals and in humans. It is generally felt that tick abundance is increasing and tick ranges expanding, but there is a lack of robust long-term data to confirm this, and more surveys such as those that have been carried out by Bristol University are needed. In the UK, most cases of clinical disease in companion animals involve dogs with babesiosis; PCR of appropriate samples is useful in diagnosis of this and other tick-borne infections. Cases involving the small Babesia species are particularly challenging to treat. Clinical disease due to tick-borne pathogens is rare in cats but can occur, particularly in immunosuppressed individuals. More studies are needed on treatment of these pathogens in companion animals. Tick-borne diseases, particularly Lyme disease, can be important zoonoses. There is still much to be learned about treatment and about detection of the Lyme borreliosis pathogen. The passive tick surveillance scheme from the Medical Entomology and Zoonoses Ecology unit of Public Health England, and other surveillance systems, have detected a wide range of ticks being imported on dogs entering or re-entering the UK, including both endemic and exotic species. There are risks of importation both of pathogens causing non-endemic diseases and of new species of ticks that might become established in the UK.