How to protect your pet from ticks and other ticks
Updated February 14, 2018 05:04:24 A new study has revealed a link between pet ownership and increased risk of tick-borne diseases.
The study by the Australian National University (ANU) has found pet ownership may lead to more ticks and tick-causing bacteria in a pet’s environment, with the same number of pets being infected with both types of diseases.
It is also a link with more ticks being present in the home environment than non-pet households.
“There is evidence that pets are more likely to transmit tick-associated pathogens than nonpet households,” the study’s lead author Dr Jennifer Tannock said.
“It’s important that we think about what the implications are for the public health, as well as the pet owner.”
The study was conducted in a small community in Victoria and analysed data on household pets and their health.
The research involved looking at the prevalence of tick and tickborne diseases, including tick-induced otitis media and tick arthritis.
Dr Tannocks said the findings were not yet clear-cut.
“The research is still very preliminary and we need to follow up with further studies to see if it’s causal,” she said.
Ticks are highly invasive, spreading through the body and can be transmitted through bites or scratches.
It can also be transmitted to humans through food or water.
It’s unclear how many pets were affected, but it was the largest study of its kind to date.
Dr Jennifer Tannaoke said the prevalence rate was higher in pets than in non-pets.
“We don’t know what percentage of pets are actually tick-affected, so that could be an important factor,” she told ABC News Breakfast.
“This could be a very significant risk factor for people.”
The research found that the number of pet owners with a pet with Lyme disease had increased by a factor of eight in a decade.
“That’s a large increase in terms of people having more pets,” Dr Tannoke said.
While many pet owners have tick-related illnesses in the past, the researchers said they were not sure if this was a result of more tick-infected pets in the community or whether the pets were in contact with people with ticks or bacteria.
“You’re talking about an increase in tick-infested households in a very small community, so it’s not clear yet what the impact of this on the human population is,” Dr Jodi Kaldas said.
Dr Jodi said more research was needed to see how ticks and their related diseases affected people.
“People are really vulnerable and we should not forget that pets can become very ill,” she added.
The ANU study also found that people living with dogs, cats, rabbits and mice had the highest risk of being bitten by ticks.
“While we don’t have a direct comparison between pet and non-parent households, we do know that pet owners are more than twice as likely to have ticks on their skin,” Dr Jennifer said.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Primary Industries said tick-resistant tick-fighting products were available for purchase.
“These products have been tested for effectiveness and are used on dogs and cats,” she explained.
“If a person is bitten by a tick, they can be treated and then they can go home to have a tick-bite test.”
For more information on tick control, contact your doctor or a health professional.