Ticks are from arachnid family which also includes spiders & scorpions, they are small parasites that feed off other animals blood. Disease can be transmitted through the blood from the bite of an infected tick, it is therefore vital to use a preventive treatment against ticks on pets as the onset of tick fever can be rapid and often prove fatal. The 2 most common diseases spread by ticks are Babesiosis (Lymes Disease) and Piroplasmose, for dogs both can be quickly fatal as early signs of the disease can easily go unnoticed, therefore it cannot be stressed enough that prevention is better than cure!
Although tick fever does occur in the UK it is far more prevalent in France and other European countries, dogs and other pets coming here from the UK are often more susceptible to the disease because they have not had chance to build up a natural immunity.
Usually infected ticks can only transmit disease if they are left attached to feed for more than 24 hrs, it is when the tick detaches itself after it has finished feeding or occasionally during removal if the head is left attached that an exchange of blood between the tick and its host takes place thus causing disease transmission if the tick is a carrier.
PrecautionsWhen enjoying the great outdoors in France especially wooded areas which are frequented by deer try to make sure that you are wearing closed shoes or preferably walking boots, if possible keep clothing tucked in - tucking trousers into boots may not look very glamorous but it's effective. Wearing light coloured fabrics with a close weave also makes it easier to spot ticks. Avoid sitting directly on the ground, and check yourself and your pets thoroughly for ticks when you get home or before getting back in your car.
At home keep your grass cut regularly especially if you have pets.
Preventive TreatmentsFor humans insect repellent preparations containing DEET (available from pharmacies) are effective at repelling ticks. For cats and dogs there are a variety of treatments that can be obtained from your veterinary surgeon including:
Frontline - For effective tick treatment in dogs and cats please note that Frontline preparations must be used every 4 weeks, although Frontline does not kill ticks on your pet on contact it should kill the tick within 24hrs which is the crucial period to prevent disease. In France Frontline is available from pharmacies and veterinary surgeons.
Tick Collars - For dogs or cats, again these are available from your veterinary surgeon but may not be suitable for use in conjunction with some flea treatments so consult your vet before using, some collars are designed to repel ticks and others to kill.
Removing A TickIf you find a tick on yourself or your pet it must be removed with great care, if you don't have a tick removal tool use tweezers and gently remove it by the head taking great care not to crush the body or leave the mouth parts attached as these can cause infection. Do not use oils, lighter fluid or anything else to remove the tick not only are these ineffective but they can also cause the tick to disgorge its stomach contents into its hosts bloodstream thus increasing the chance of infection!
After removal clean the area thoroughly with an alcohol wipe. If you are concerned about contracting Lyme disease or if removal has left part of tick still attached immerse the removed tick in a small container with ethanol and consult your doctor taking the tick with you for identification.
Most vets and chemists sell handy tick removers like the one shown on the left for around 4 or 5 euros which can make removing a tick much easier especially on cats or dogs that wriggle.
There is a far lesser risk of contracting disease if the tick is removed within 24 hours.
SymptomsHumans - Symptoms of tick fever in humans may be flu like and can include: migratory pain around joints and muscles, fever, lethargy, headache and a bulls eye rash radiating out from the tick bite, if you have any concerns consult a qualified medical practitioner.
Animals - Symptoms of tick fever can include fever, blood in the urine, weight loss, lethargy and loss of appetite, if you are concerned about your pet consult a veterinary practitioner.
Diagnosis for humans and animals is usually confirmed by blood test.
Please note this information is provided for guidance only; if in you are in any doubt or have any concerns seek medical attention from a qualified medical practitioner.
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Ticks or tiques as they are known in France are one of the lesser joys of the French countryside and although ticks exist in the UK you are far more likely to come across them in...