Infectious Diseases Abroad

There are a number of diseases that are much easier to prevent effectively than to treat.


Ticks may transport other parasites such as Babesia. This may cause recurrent illness with severe anaemia and fever and can become fatal.

They may also carry bacteria that can cause Ehrlichiosis. This may cause intermittent fever, enlarged lymph nodes and bleeding and may be fatal, especially in German Shepherd Dogs. It is relatively common in Europe.

We recommend that a licensed tick control product be applied several days before leaving and then monthly thereafter. We also recommend daily checks while abroad and removal of any ticks seen with a tick-removing hook.


Sandflies may transmit the protozoal parasite, which causes Leishmaniasis. This disease is chronic and may have an incubation period of months to years causing skin lesions and many immune mediated disease signs. It is common in Spain, Italy and the Balearics and occurs in all Mediterranean countries. Sandfly repellents should be used (available at the surgery). It is also advised to keep animals indoors from 7pm to 7am.


Mosquitoes can transmit the heartworm Dirofilaria. Infected mosquitoes transmit larvae onto the skin from where they move slowly through the body to the heart where adult worms may develop as large as 30cms long. They can cause heart failure. It is prevalent in peri-Mediterranean countries.

Treatment is dangerous as the worms are killed and may block the vessels in the heart. Prevention is very important. Mosquito control is advised (available at the surgery). Heartworm prevention products may be given as tablets or spot on products.

Please insure your pet is well protected when you travel, as all of these diseases are very difficult to treat. It is also very important when you return to the UK that if your pet is ill you should advise the vet where and when your pet has travelled in case this is relevant to your pet’s condition.

If going to live abroad, we recommend that you seek local veterinary advice for the relevant preventative treatment for that area.

Should you wish to discuss any of these issues in more detail, please consult your veterinary surgeon.