An MPI operation has been underway in response to the discovery of an exotic/introduced tick in two pet dogs in the Selwyn District of Canterbury in January 2015. We are contacting pest control companies as we are very keen to hear if they have had to treat any tick infestations in the last 4 (or so) months in the Selwyn or greater Christchurch area.
The tick found is called the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) and 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. With regards to the Canterbury situation, the two dogs concerned have been treated with a tick treatment and confined to their house. No further ticks have been found at any location. Tick treatment of the properties the dogs have visited has been conducted as an extra precaution. MPI is now working to find out whether there are any other tick populations present in the Canterbury area. The Ministry is carrying out a range of tracing and surveillance activities, including asking dog owners and related enterprises to look out for these ticks.
These ticks can feed on a variety of mammals but they are most commonly found on dogs. They are not a pest of production animals. The brown dog tick can cause skin irritation in dogs where large numbers are present. It can infest houses and kennels. More significantly, the tick can carry and spread a range of blood-borne diseases that can affect both animals and humans. It is important to note, however, that these diseases are not actually present in New Zealand so the risk of disease spread remains very low. The Ministry of Health advises that any human health risk resulting from these ticks is very low.
We do not know how the brown dog ticks could have entered New Zealand. The dogs concerned are not imported and have lived in New Zealand all their lives. They have not had any known contact with imported dogs. There are a number of ways the ticks could have arrived, including on travellers, in luggage or clothing, or with imported goods, including animals. MPI has strict importing requirements for animals including dogs. Dogs must have been treated prior to export, must be inspected by a veterinarian prior to shipment and on arrival, and dogs from most countries are quarantined here before release.
Full information about the brown dog tick is on the MPI site: www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests/brown-dog-tick
Further to this you can find the MPI Fact Sheet on the Brown Dog tick here.
Please feel free to share this information with anyone you feel would have an interest in this.
The important message is:
If you live in Canterbury and believe you have seen brown dog ticks on a dog, please phone MPI on 0800 80 99 66.
If you live elsewhere in New Zealand and believe you have seen brown dog ticks on a dog, please contact a veterinarian.
Note: New Zealand has a number of species of ticks established here, so it is very likely that any ticks present (particularly if you live in the North Island) will not be the brown dog tick. However your vet will be able to help determine if the ticks are of concern.