The passive surveillance of ticks using companion animal electronic health records

J S P Tulloch, L McGinley, Fernando Sánchez-Vizcaíno, J M Medlock, A D Radford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Ticks represent a large global reservoir of zoonotic disease. Current surveillance systems can be time and labour intensive. We propose that the passive surveillance of companion animal electronic health records (EHRs) could provide a novel methodology for describing temporal and spatial tick activity. A total of 16 58 857 EHRs were collected over a 2-year period (31 March 2014 and 29 May 2016) from companion animals attending a large sentinel network of 192 veterinary clinics across Great Britain (the Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network - SAVSNET). In total, 2180 EHRs were identified where a tick was recorded on an animal. The relative risk of dogs presenting with a tick compared with cats was 0·73 (95% confidence intervals 0·67-0·80). The highest number of tick records were in the south central regions of England. The presence of ticks showed marked seasonality with summer peaks, and a secondary smaller peak in autumn for cats; ticks were still being found throughout most of Great Britain during the winter. This suggests that passive surveillance of companion animal EHRs can describe tick activity temporally and spatially in a large cohort of veterinary clinics across Great Britain. These results and methodology could help inform veterinary and public health messages as well as increase awareness of ticks and tick-borne diseases in the general population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2020-2029
Number of pages10
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Volume145
Issue number10
Early online date2 May 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

Keywords

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases
  • Cats
  • Dog Diseases
  • Dogs
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Pets
  • Sentinel Species
  • Sentinel Surveillance
  • Tick-Borne Diseases
  • Ticks
  • United Kingdom
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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