Ticks are arachnids and as such are related to spiders. Adult ticks have 8 legs unlike adult fleas, which are insects and have 6 legs. Like fleas, ticks must have blood meals to survive and they feed on many types of animal including humans. Not only is the tick bite annoying but they can also spread diseases which are then carried to animals when they feed. Ticks are important vectors of a number of serious diseases, which in the tropics significantly limits livestock farming.
|Adult female||3mm (sesame seed size)
small, oval, and flat
|Fully engorged to about 11mm
|Adult male||Approximately 2.5 mm||Take smaller meals|
|Larvae (6 legs)||About 0.5mm
(size of a poppy seed)
There are two families of ticks that can be found in the United Kingdom:
- Argasidae, “soft ticks”, so called because they have a spongy and wrinkled back that extends like a hood concealing their head and mouth parts.
- Ixodidae, “hard ticks”, so called because they have a hard plate-like shield covering their backs. Unlike soft ticks, the head and mouth parts can be seen from above because the shield does not cover them. As a hard tick feeds and swells up with blood, the shield on its back appears smaller and more towards its head. It is usually a species of hard tick that is found on domestic pets or people.
- Ixodes ricinus, also known as the sheep tick, wood tick, deer tick and castor bean tick.
- Ixodes hexagonus, also called the hedgehog tick.
- Dermacentor reticulatus, also known as the ornate cow tick or the marsh tick.
|UK Tick-borne Viral Infections||Humans
|Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)||Yes||Yes|
|Louping-ill virus (LV)||Yes||Yes|
|UK Tick-borne Rickettsia Infections||Humans||Dogs||Cats|
|Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Rickettsia disease can be acquired either through the bite of an arthropod or through skin abrasions, e.g. when crushing a tick between fingers. It can also be acquired from the inhalation of dried faeces or arthropods.
Q-fever (Coxiella burnetii) Ticks are the vector for Coxiella burnetii but the organism is found in the afterbirth and birth fluids, milk, urine, and faeces of infected livestock. Infection of humans generally occurs by inhalation of coxiella burnetii from air that contains contaminated barnyard dust. However, a bite from an infected tick can also result in clinical disease. The UK is considered to be widely infected with Q-fever.
Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis are diseases where the spectrum of symptoms ranges from asymptomatic to fatal. Wild and domestic livestock are both the reservoir and host.
|UK Tick-borne Bacterial Infections||Humans||Dogs||Cats|
|Borreliosis (Lyme disease)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Bartonellosis The most common form of Bartonella seen in humans in the UK is Bartonella henselae, considered to be widespread in the cat and dog population. Both the cat flea and ticks are arthropod vectors.
|Product||Dog Treatment||Cat Treatment|
|Advantix Spot On||Yes||NO|
|Frontline Spray & Spot On||Yes||Yes|
|Pract-Tick Spot On||Yes||NO|
|Promeris Stop On||Yes||Yes (cat formulation)|
- For detailed information visit the Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness UK website.
- Use products prescribed by your vet to protect your pet from tick bites and complications.
- Promptly remove attached ticks with a tick removal tool such as the Tick Key®.
- If you feel you or your pet have a tick-borne infection, prompt treatment can avoid complications.