An animal expert is warning pet owners to be aware of the risks from disease when taking their pets abroad. Since the introduction of the Pet Travel Scheme in 2000, hundreds of cats and dogs have travelled to mainland Europe and returned without spending time in quarantine. Dr Susan Shaw will tell the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress this weekend that pets travelling in and out of the UK still face the risk of disease and infection despite the introduction of the Government's pet passport. Dr Shaw, from the department of clinical veterinary science at Bristol University, is to highlight the number of infections and diseases now appearing in pets who have travelled across the EU. Among the diseases pets can catch in mainland Europe are babesiosis (a tick-borne malaria like illness), erlichiosis (a tick-borne virus causing fever, headaches, fatigue and muscle aches) and leishmaniasis (which is caught from sand flies and causes skin ulcers). Dr Freda Scott-Park, junior vice-president of the BSAVA, said: “We are trying to make pet owners aware of the dangers their animals face when abroad. “Owners must treat their pets with anti-tick and anti-fly sprays before they go. While abroad they must remove all ticks from their pets and before they come back they must follow to the letter the treatment guidelines in order to keep their pets disease-free.”

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