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Travel - Diseases from Abroad

dreamstime s 13825242Diseases Your Pets can Catch from Abroad

As pet passports become increasingly easy to obtain, more and more people are taking their pets on holiday with them.   Despite all the rules and regulations that have to be followed in order to obtain a passport for your pet, many pet owners are unaware of just what diseases their dog could still bring back from a holiday abroad.

The perceived risks mainly involve rabies which is depicted as a scary disease that turns your beloved pet into an aggressive, salivating monster.  However, rabies is actually very rare and is spread by direct contact from an infected animal.

The more dangerous diseases are those that are spread by insects - mainly ticks and mosquitoes.  Although they are not as dramatic as rabies, they are much more common and can be fatal.  Many are also zoonotic which means that they can spread to humans.

Leishmaniasis

Caused by a tiny parasite that is transported by the sandfly.  Cases of Leishmaniasis have increased over the last few years.  It is common in the Mediterranean areas of Europe and it causes a non-specific disease that has a variable onset time so your pet may not show signs of illness for several months after your holiday.  Signs include a loss of appetite, increased drinking, lethargy, hair loss around the eyes and nose and sometimes more severe ulcerative skin lesions.  The vet may suspect Leishmaniasis if your dog has been abroad and the disease is usually diagnosed with a blood test.  Treatment is long term to keep the disease in remission but the prognosis is dependent on the severity of the disease at diagnosis as the parasite can cause damage to major organs.

Babesiosis

Another parasite, which is spread by ticks.  Many ticks in Southern Europe carry Babesiosis and infect dogs when they attach and feed. The Babesiosis parasite lives in red blood cells and it causes anaemia.  It can also result in your pet having a temperature, losing its appetite and having an upset tummy.  The disease is diagnosed with a blood test.  It can be treated in most cases but the extent of the disease can be fatal to some animals.

Ehrlichiosis

Another disease carried by ticks.  This parasite infects one of the white blood cells and causes and acute disease of fever, loss of appetite and unexplained bleeding.  The animal gets over this phase but does not clear the parasite and there can be long-term problems with immune suppression.  Again, diagnosis is with a blood test and although treatment is available, it is not that effective.

Prevention

Using a good tick, sandfly and mosquito repellant can help to prevent all these diseases and your vet can advise you on a suitable one for your pet.  It is also advisable to examine animals daily to try and remove ticks before they attach.   For advice on how to remove a tick, click here.

Finally, it is recommended that you have your pet checked as soon as you return from a holida abroad, especially if your pet shows any signs of sickness.

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