The tick season is well under way. Ixodes
ricinus has been without food for almost a year and is waiting
in anticipation for his next annual feast
Felix Blockley was playing host to three greedy
individuals when he was presented at the surgery last week.
Ixodes ricinus, to give him his real name,
is a three-host tick and the lifecycle requires three years.
The tick feeds for only a few days each year
neat trick if you can manage it!
There are two distinct seasonal periods of
I. ricinus -March until June and August until November -
during which infestation of pets and livestock occur.
During these periods ticks can be found on
the tips of vegetation searching for a host which they locate
with the aid of sensory bristles.
If the tick is forcible removed during the
"locked" phase of feeding there can be a considerable
reaction to the mouthparts which often remain embedded in
the pet's skin.
During engorgement the bodyweight of a tick
increases by about 200 times. "Felix" need have
no worries, as we were able to remove his feeding "friends"
with the aid of an "O'Tom
- which gently prizes their mouthparts from their victim.
Most of the concerns regarding the ticks are
not associated with the ticks themselves, although in very
heavy infestations they could cause anaemia, but with the
diseases they carry.
Fortunately for Felix and the rest of the
British pet population those concerns thus far are unwarranted.
However, with the change in the quarantine laws allowing
greater freedom for British pets to travel abroad the prospect
of bringing home such diseases as Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis
has been increased. These diseases attack the patient's
blood cells often causing anaemia and death.
The advice to would be travellers is to make
sure you treat for ticks BEFORE you cross the channel! -
alternatively, holiday in Scotland!
O'Tom Tick Twisters are available from the