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Vector-borne parasite transmission in the UK and the role of the veterinary nurse in education

02 November 2019
18 mins read
Volume 10 · Issue 9


Vector-borne infections account for 17% of infectious diseases globally, presenting a risk to humans. They are also a significant cause of disease in cats and dogs, which can act as reservoirs for certain zoonotic vector-borne pathogens, thus further increasing this risk. As a result of changes in climate and pet travel guidelines, there is the potential for introduction of new vectors or vector-borne parasites in the UK. The veterinary nurse plays a vital role in educating clients on the risks presented by these parasites and their associated diseases, as well as in formulating tailored parasite control plans in partnership with clients.

Vector-borne infections account for more than 17% of all human infectious diseases globally, causing more than 700 000 deaths every year. They are also a significant cause of disease in cats and dogs, which can act as reservoirs for certain zoonotic vector-borne pathogens. The infection of cats and dogs by UK vectors and their pathogens falls into one of the following five groups:

Educating pet owners regarding potential vectors, pathogens and zoonotic risks along with their prevention, is vital for both pet and human health, as well as wider UK biosecurity.

Strategies to limit vector-borne disease rely on a combination of practical control measures and preventative drug treatments; these form the basis of control protocols for individual pets. As the number of treatment options and potential parasite threats increase, parasite control programmes are becoming increasingly popular and important in practice. Parasite control programmes allow bespoke advice to be formulated based on regional risk and the lifestyle of the pet. Asking questions surrounding lifestyle, previous treatment, adverse effects and owner preferences, will also help to maximise compliance, and therefore the effectiveness of any recommended treatment. The collection of information required to formulate a parasite control plan is a team effort and the veterinary nurse (VN) plays a vital role.

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