The passive surveillance of ticks using companion animal electronic health records

J. S.P. Tulloch*, L. McGinley, F. Sánchez-Vizcaíno, J. M. Medlock, A. D. Radford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


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
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2017.


  • Companion animals
  • Great Britain
  • electronic health records
  • one health
  • surveillance
  • ticks


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