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Clinical signs of parasitic disease in imported pets

02 March 2018
12 mins read
Volume 9 · Issue 2


Increased pet travel, importation of pets and the expansion of European parasite distributions is increasing the risk of pets infected with exotic parasites entering the UK. Rapid recognition of clinical signs associated with disease in these pets is vital to improve prognostic outcomes, and limit parasite spread and zoonotic risk. Veterinary nurses play a vital role in early disease recognition during nurse clinics, postoperative checks and other pet interactions in practice. This article considers exotic parasites that have already entered the country and that are likely to be present in travelled pets, and their clinical presentations.

Since the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) was relaxed in 2012, pet travel has increased year on year. This, in combination with expanding European parasite distributions, increases the risk of pets and their owners encountering these agents while abroad, and bringing them back to the UK. In addition, legal and illegal importation of pets are also increasing the likelihood of novel parasites being introduced. Part of this trend has been driven by pets being rescued from abroad and then being rehomed in the UK.

Novel parasites may establish in the UK in a number of different ways:

The rapid identification of parasitic infection and disease in travelled pets forms an essential part of preventing new parasites and vectors establishing in the UK through these routes.

As a result of the ongoing risk that imported parasites represent to individual pets, owners, the wider public and UK biosecurity, The European Scientific Counsel for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) UK & Ireland recommend four key steps when dealing with imported pets on arrival in the UK. These are the ‘four pillars’:

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