Friday, 8 July 2016


Ticks infesting domestic dogs in the UK: a large-scale surveillance programme

Research published 7 July 2016 Parasites & Vectors



Recent changes in the distribution of tick vectors and the incidence of tick-borne disease, driven variously by factors such as climate change, habitat modification, increasing host abundance and the increased movement of people and animals, highlight the importance of ongoing, active surveillance. This paper documents the results of a large-scale survey of tick abundance on dogs presented to veterinary practices in the UK, using a participatory approach that allows relatively cost- and time-effective extensive data collection.


Over a period of 16 weeks (April–July 2015), 1094 veterinary practices were recruited to monitor tick attachment to dogs and provided with a tick collection and submission protocol. Recruitment was encouraged through a national publicity and communication initiative. Participating practices were asked to select five dogs at random each week and undertake a thorough, standardized examination of each dog for ticks. The clinical history and any ticks were then sent to the investigators for identification.


A total of 12,000 and 96 dogs were examined and 6555 tick samples from infested dogs were received.Ixodes ricinus (Linnaeus) was identified on 5265 dogs (89 %), Ixodes hexagonus Leach on 577 (9.8 %) andIxodes canisuga Johnston on 46 (0.8 %). Ten dogs had Dermacentor reticulatus (Fabricius), one hadDermacentor variabilis (Say), three had Haemaphysalis punctata Canesteini & Fanzago and 13 hadRhipicephalus sanguineus Latreille. 640 ticks were too damaged for identification. All the R. sanguineus and the single D. variabilis were on dogs with a recent history of travel outside the UK. The overall prevalence of tick attachment was 30 % (range 28–32 %). The relatively high prevalence recorded is likely to have been inflated by the method of participant recruitment.


The data presented provide a comprehensive spatial understanding of tick distribution and species abundance in the UK against which future changes can be compared. Relative prevalence maps show the highest rates in Scotland and south west England providing a valuable guide to tick-bite risk in the UK.
Go to the link for access to the full study
Earlier post on The Big Tick Project -

I note with interest that one dog had 200 ticks attached mentioned in the research study.

Earlier I posted about a vet finding over 100 ticks on one dog after a walk on a beach in Ainsdale 

in the same post there was mention of a child with in excess of 100 ticks attached 
Last week I was told my neighbours dog was so infested with ticks it had to have it's coat trimmed to get at them all.

I await with interest on the Bristol researchers publishing on what pathogens they found in the ticks they collected.

1 comment:

  1. This ranks with the Nelson/ Logan paper on ticks in London parks as the most awful papers I’ve ever seen.

    They write:
    However, while many participating veterinary practices, as expected, sent more negative questionnaire reports than positive, some veterinary practices sentquestionnaire reports only from infested dogs. It is therefore likely that these practices misunderstood the study protocol and only submitted reports when ticks were found. All data submitted from practices that sent only positive samples from any single week in which it participated in the survey were not included in the prevalence analysis. Data from practices that submitted reports from three or fewer dogs any week were also removed, since it was considered unlikely that any practice would see fewer than three dogs in a week.
    So instruction must not have been clear. The questionnaire form should have had how many dogs inspected, how many with tick. Then asked for details such as max number of ticks. Mean can be calculated.
    They discount all reports with only positive samples from a single week. (I guess they don’t think that can happen). Also they discount all reports where there were fewer than 3 dogs for an assumed reason.
    Somebody did not ensure the protocol was clear and made sense. Seems to me that the entire study is compromised.