Ticks are small but the harm they can do to you and your family, dog and cat is enormous.
Ticks are parasites, often carriers of bacteria and pathogenic parasites, which feed on the blood of animals and humans. They can transmit numerous infections, sometimes even simultaneously, during their blood meal.
Disease transmission can go unnoticed because ticks are small parasites that can attach, feed and fall off a host without being detected. The clinical signs of the different diseases transmitted by ticks are not always specific, so do not hesitate to ask a doctor or veterinarian for help if you are in doubt.
Here are 9 diseases that infected ticks can transmit
- Piroplasmosis is also called babesiosis, after the microscopic parasite that causes it, Babesia canis is probably the most well-known tick-borne vector-borne disease among dog owners. Indeed everyone knows a dog owner who has had piroplasmosis, and in most cases has been saved by his veterinarian.
Because without rapid treatment (hospitalization and injection), the disease proves fatal! It is caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Babesia, which infect the blood. The main warning signs of the classic form are fever, loss of appetite, intense weakness, dark urine, jaundice.
In some cases, the disease is unfortunately more insidious and less easy to spot. Piroplasmosis causes a severe and progressive anemia by destroying red blood cells, which leads to a decrease in blood oxygenation. In case of suspicion, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Ehrlichiosis is a disease caused by bacteria (Ehrlichia canis), transmitted to dogs, cats and humans by tick bites. Rhipicephalus sanguineus. The dog is the main reservoir, the disease is not well known in cats.
The bacteria infect white blood cells and platelets, causing immune deficiency and bleeding. Ehrlichiosis usually causes non-specific signs related to secondary infections: fever, fatigue, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea.
These symptoms usually appear within two to four weeks after being bitten by an infected tick, which can make clinical diagnosis difficult.
- Borreliosis Lyme disease, commonly known as Lyme disease, is a bacterial disease transmitted by ticks of the genus Ixodes, of major importance in humans. Dogs and also cats can be affected.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, swollen and painful joints. It is important to note that symptoms may not develop for several months. People who are bitten by an infected tick can develop a migrating rash, a red patch on the skin that looks like a target. This sign is not easily visible in the fur of our pets.
- Bartonellosis is a bacterial disease that can be transmitted by fleas, and more anecdotally by ticks. It mainly affects cats, natural carriers of the bacteria, which transmit it to other animals and humans through scratching, which is why it is called “cat scratch disease”.
Symptoms include fever, lameness, lethargy, lack of appetite, nausea, heart problems, muscle pain, and swelling and inflammation of the lymph nodes .
- Canine hepatozoonosis is a disease caused by a microscopic parasite called Hepatozoon canis Transmitted by ingestion of an infected tick… Infection creates inflammation, which can lead to fever, depression, weight loss, poor physical condition, muscle loss and weakness, eye discharge and bloody diarrhea.
Kidney failure may occur. These signs may be intermittent. This is a lifelong infection in dogs; there is no known treatment that can completely rid the body of the infection.*
- Cytauxzoonosis is a disease caused by parasites such as Cytauxzoon transmitted by ticks to cats. The disease progresses rapidly and is usually fatal. Symptoms usually begin about 10 days after a tick bite and peak about 6 days later.
Cats can be feverish, weak, depressed and dehydrated. They may be jaundiced, have difficulty breathing and refuse to eat.
Hemotrophic mycoplasmosis, also called feline infectious anemia, formerly hemobartonnellosis, is a bacterial disease probably transmitted to cats by ticks and fleas . It attacks the red blood cells and causes anemia and weakness. It is especially severe in cats with leukemia (FeLV).
- Rickettiosis are diseases caused by bacteria of the genus Rickettsia, some of which are transmitted to dogs (Rickettsia coronii). and to cats by ticks. Severe forms are rare in Europe, dogs and cats generally show few symptoms.
As you will have understood, when it comes to ticks, prevention is better than cure. There are two rules that must be followed to avoid these diseases: systematically inspect your dog and cat after a stay outdoors, or when you return from a walk, and ask your vet for advice on the most suitable preventive treatment for your companion.