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Lyme disease in pets on the rise

Tuesday April 5th 2016

Pet owners are being warned that cases of Lyme disease in Britain's dog and cat population have soared in the past seven years. The PDSA says instances have spiralled by 560% in that time, the Telegraph reports.

Between 2009 and 2016 the charity's 51 UK hospitals have reported a rise in verified or suspected cases from 15 to 99. Dogs easily make up most of these instances, although cats are also affected.

The "incredibly worrying" increase is being blamed on milder winters, which have seen a rise in the number of the woodland and heath-based blood-sucking ticks that cause the disease.

The PDSA says its figures are probably just a small sample of what is going on nationwide, with thousands of pets probably being professionally treated or not diagnosed.

It says the disease can result in long-term conditions, including joint swelling, nerve damage, crippling arthritis and meningitis. Lyme disease is characterised by a distinct bull's-eye-like rash. Early detection can lead to successful treatment through antibiotics.

The Telegraph says that owners cannot directly catch Lyme disease from their cat or dog. Potentially, however, ticks could crawl on to a human from a pet they have been touching.

Copyright Press Association 2016