The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is continuing to check dogs in the Selwyn District in Canterbury following the recent discovery in the area of small numbers of new-to-New Zealand ticks on two pet dogs.
So far in its search for any potential populations of the brown dog tick, the Ministry has found no evidence that this pest has established in this area. The affected property has undergone the first of a number of tick treatments.
MPI Response Principal Adviser Andre van Halderen says teams have checked the houses of, and treated over 130 dogs that may have visited the same places as the two affected dogs in December. No further brown dog ticks have been found anywhere during these visits.
“Our people have also visited homeowners around the park where the affected dogs are occasionally exercised, and again no brown dog ticks have been found. The Ministry is also contacting any Canterbury people who have recently imported dogs.
“We are now about to extend our search to the wider Selwyn community and will shortly mail out information to all registered dog owners in the affected area, asking them to help by checking their pets for ticks,” Dr van Halderen says.
These ticks feed by attaching themselves to dogs and occasionally other animals and sucking blood. They rarely feed on humans. Because of the way they feed, brown dog ticks can spread diseases from animal to animal. The particular diseases these ticks are known to spread are not present in New Zealand and the Ministry of Health has determined that there is a very low risk to human health due to this find.
Dr van Halderen says despite the low health risk of the current situation to dogs or people, this is a pest we don’t want in New Zealand in case the diseases it can carry enter the country in the future.
“If there are other populations of the brown dog tick out there, we need to find them and eradicate them, if possible.”
The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) is present in many countries, but has not previously established in New Zealand. The ticks have been found here on rare occasions in the past and have been successfully eradicated each time.
Full information on what to look for is at: www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests/brown-dog-tick
In short, brown dog ticks are red-brown in colour and vary in size depending on the stage in their life cycle. Young ticks (larvae and nymphs) are less than one millimetre in length and extremely difficult to see. Fully fed female adults (that are engorged with blood) can be around a centimetre long and round to oval in shape. The females are the easiest for pet owners to find. Adult ticks are commonly found attached to the skin on the ears, back of the neck and between the toes of a dog.
Canterbury dog owners who believe they have found brown dog ticks on their animals should contact MPI on 0800 80 99 66.
If anyone outside of Canterbury believes they have found brown dog ticks, they should contact their veterinarian.
For further information:
MPI Media Phone – 029 8940328