Animal Health Professionals Site

2 December 2015


Vets have voted the Big Tick Project a resounding success in a post-campaign survey, with 94% reporting their experience as being good or very good. As well as reporting high levels of satisfaction, the respondents revealed that altruistic reasons were their primary motivation for taking part, with ‘making a contribution to science’ and ‘obtaining regional data on the scale of the tick problem’, quoted by 96% and 90% respectively.

Efforts of practices up and down the country have certainly been significant and as a result of their fantastic contributions 6,500 ticks removed from dogs this summer are currently being tested for pathogens at Bristol University, which makes this one of the UK’s largest ever tick studies.

Contributing to the greater good

In addition to being asked to select all the reasons for taking part in the Big Tick Project, practices were also asked to select their primary motivation. A striking 49% mainly wanted regional data, 22% mainly wanted to make clients aware of the risks, 15% mainly wanted to contribute to science. There are signs that the campaign changed opinions and behaviours with the added bonus of benefiting practices commercially, as 71% reported higher levels of awareness of the risks presented by ticks, 49% noted clients asking about ticks unprompted, 15% said they had experienced new clients getting in touch to ask about ticks and 67% observed that more clients were now using regular tick treatments.

Making new discoveries

The project has also been a huge success from the perspective of Bristol University where Professor Richard Wall’s team are now busy performing DNA extraction, probe based real time PCR and sequencing to identify potential pathogens.

Already the team has identified a number of Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks in dogs that have recently travelled. Rhipicephalus is also known as the Brown Dog Tick and is a vector for Babesia, which can cause anaemia in dogs. The main concern for most dog owners is likely to be from tick species carrying Lyme disease and the regional data should help veterinary practices to quantify this risk and recommend appropriate, regular treatment.

Due to the large volume of samples, this information is likely to be published next year when full testing is complete. MSD Marketing & Technical Lead Jolian Howell says the company is delighted by the tremendous support for the project from practices, “A study of this size and scale will undoubtedly give scientists and veterinary surgeons a valuable insight into the transmission of Lyme disease and other tick borne diseases and we are very grateful to everyone who gave us their time to make it happen.”

About the Big Tick Project

The Big Tick Project is an initiative run by MSD Animal Health (a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA.) and Bristol University. Backed by TV naturalist Chris Packham, the campaign gained nationwide exposure when it launched in spring of this year, through to September when the final samples were collected. Over 1000 practices registered to take part. The online survey of registered practices was carried out in September 2015 and was completed by 49 respondents.

About MSD Animal Health

Today's MSD is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. MSD Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA., is the global animal health business unit of MSD. Through its commitment to the Science of Healthier Animals™, MSD Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest range of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services. MSD Animal Health is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals. It invests extensively in dynamic and comprehensive R&D resources and a modern, global supply chain. MSD Animal Health is present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in some 150 markets. For more information, visit or connect with us on LinkedIn.

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