Currently hitting the news, Lyme disease is a particularly nasty illness we humans can catch from ticks. Currently hitting the news, Lyme disease is a particularly nasty illness we humans can catch from ticks.

In people, the symptoms can be mistaken for all sorts of other diseases, and infection can be tricky to diagnose.

It is transmitted by the bite of an infected tick which attaches to the skin with a needle-like mouth-part. They suck blood and end up looking like a large grey pea firmly anchored to the skin.

They have a very complicated life-cycle over a number of years, getting progressively bigger each year, and becoming more specific about what animals they feed on. Deer and sheep are a favourite of bigger ticks, as well as hedgehogs.

They are generally more active in the summer months yet, when we see feral cats for neutering in winter, they often have a complement of these parasites.

I guess most of our domestic cats stay in the warm and don’t range as far when it’s cooler.

Medicating cats, in particular, can be a challenge and the less medication we give them the better. We vets now have a number of new insecticides in our armoury including one called Bravecto which gives three months cover from a single pipette.

If your dog or cat gets a tick, don’t just pull them off, in case the mouth-parts remain stuck in the skin. You will also need to treat your pet against further ticks hiding in the coat.

A bite on a human can develop into a typical bulls-eye appearance one to four weeks after infection. Seek medical attention if you get one attached to yourself and/or if you develop such a rash.

Pete Coleshaw MRCVS

jaffavets.com ‘where cool cats chill’

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