An overview of Lyme disease in the UK

spotlight topic:

‘In the Spotlight’ features bring together collections of published papers on topics of interest and importance to the veterinary professions.

If you would like to suggest a paper for inclusion in one of our published Spotlight features, or a topic for a future Spotlight feature, please email

An overview of Lyme disease in the UK

Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease resulting from infection by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, transmitted by the tick Ixodes ricinus. Lyme disease is considered potentially zoonotic because dogs can carry infected ticks into a home and may subsequently attach to humans, and as such, the disease can affect both dogs and their owners.

The disease is well documented in humans but it is probably less frequently diagnosed in dogs. Presentations of the disease include polyarthritis, nephritis, lymphadenopathy, fever and seizures.

Effective control measures of tick-borne diseases pose a particular challenge to implement particularly since the change in the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) in 2012, which removed compulsory tick treatments.

Prevention is key. Vets and vet nurses play a pivotal role as they encounter ticks on a regular basis – in educating dog owners and being vigilant in spotting and sending suspicious cases to the Tick Surveillance Scheme. There are many tick control products, and now a vaccine – Merilym 3, available in the UK, though the evidence around the vaccine is limited.

Overview of the disease

  • BSAVA Scientific Information Sheets. Lyme disease [Accessed 27/9/2018]
  • Wright, I. et al. (2018) Be tick aware: when and where to check cats and dogs for ticks. Veterinary Record, 182 (18), pp. 514-517
  • Tulloch, J.S.P. (2018) What is the risk of tickborne diseases to UK pets? Veterinary Record, 182 (18), pp. 511-513
  • Littman, M.P. et al. (2018) ACVIM consensus update on Lyme borreliosis in dogs and cats. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 32 (3), pp. 887-903 [This article is available on open access, click here]
  • Fogel, J. and Co, S. (2016) Awareness that dogs can be carriers for ticks that transmit Lyme disease. California Journal of Health Promotion, 14 (2), pp. 74-70 [This article is available free online, click here]

Identification of ticks

Guidance and advice

Further reading

  • Abdullah, S. et al. (2018) Prevalence and distribution of Borrelia and Babesia species in ticks feeding on dogs in the U.K. Medical and Veterinary Entomology, 32 (1), pp. 14-22 [This article can be accessed via RCVS Knowledge Library Membership, click here]
  • Jones, E.H. et al. (2018) Pet ownership increases human risk of encountering ticks. Zoonoses and Public Health, 65 (1), pp. 74-79 [This article can be accessed via RCVS Knowledge Library Membership, click here]
  • Cull, B. et al. (2018) Surveillance of British ticks: an overview of species records, host associations, and new records of Ixodes ricinus distribution. Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, 9 (3), pp. 605-614
  • Coleman, S. (2018) Ticks and Lyme borreliosis. Veterinary Ireland Journal, 8 (4), pp. 202, 205
  • Rocchi, M., Dagleish, M. and McInnes, C. (2018) Tick bites and tick-transmitted diseases. Veterinary Record, 182 (21), p. 609
  • Helm, J. (2018) Lyme disease, Veterinary Times, 48(6), pp. 10, 12
  • Davies, S. et al. (2017) Prevalence of ticks and tick-borne pathogens: Babesia and Borrelia species in ticks infesting cats of Great Britain. Veterinary Parasitology, 244, pp. 129-135 [This article can be accessed via RCVS Knowledge Library Membership, click here]

More references are available to download:

Online full-text available to Library members

A range of library membership packages is available and MRCVS vets and RVNs can join the library for a heavily subsidised, annual fee.

Image copyright attribute:

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.