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Dog owners warned of new tick virus

Wednesday March 16th 2016

The first British outbreak of a lethal tick-carried virus in dogs has been found in Essex. Babesiosis is believed to have killed one canine and made others seriously ill.

Harlow vets fear that the deadly parasite disease may take hold among ticks in the affected area. The town's council is warning dog walkers to make regular checks of their pets for ticks and safeguard them with anti-tick treatments.

Harlow Council says land between Tendring Road, Third Avenue and Second Avenue is the area to avoid.

Mark Wilkinson, a Harlow councillor with special responsibilities for the environment, says the warning is "purely precautionary". He says the council is liaising with the Government's Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

Local vet Clive Swainsbury told the BBC that the infected area is currently well defined. He fears, however, that each female tick will lay thousands of eggs which will also be infected and travelling mammals will spread the disease. Mr Swainsbury says that animals such as foxes may ferry these ticks even if warnings to dog owners not to walk there are heeded.

Copyright Press Association 2016