As punctual as clocks with the arrival of summer, helped by the rise in temperature, ticks reappear in our lawns and cities.

Annoying parasites well known to the owners of pet animals for their damaging action, in fact, in addition to having a pathogenic action themselves, they can cause the transmission of diseases that can be fatal. It is therefore important to already intervene in these days by setting up appropriate preventive measures. Ticks belong to the class of Arachnids, have a rounded shape and their sizes range from 3 mm (males) to 15 mm (females). Thanks to this size and their brownish-gray colour, they are visible to the naked eye and detectable by touch when caressing the animal. They parasitise not only mammals but also reptiles and birds.

Their source of food is the blood that is sucked by the guest through a mouthpart that allows it to anchor itself to the skin and to introduce the rostrum.
The life cycle of the tick is closely linked to climatic and environmental conditions. It may have a duration ranging from a few months up to two years, through three stages: larva, nymph and adult. After mating the male tick dies while the female lays thousands of eggs on the ground, up to 15000. After their hatching the larva comes out and after 20 days reaches maturity and attaches itself to some animal host, where it begins to feed on blood.
Within a week it transforms into a nymph, after a few days it becomes an adult tick. These processes of mutation can occur in a single host or in three (one for each phase). As I described, the life cycle of a tick takes place for 90% on a host, that is parasitised.

Pathogenic actions may occur on three levels:

  1. Haematological: Anaemias, accompanied by wasting and debilitation of the animal, due to the huge subtraction of blood (just one female can ingest about 2 ml) proportional to the number of parasites present. Transmission of blood infections such as Piroplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, etc.
  2. Dermatologic: The penetration of the rostrum in the skin provokes local inflammation and bacterial superinfections. We also often meet the nodular lesions from foreign bodies due to the incomplete removal of the parasite by the owner. To avoid this there exist on the market appropriate tick- removers.
  3. Neurologic: Inoculation of neurotoxic substances that cause flaccid paralysis of the limbs and lungs.

In humans, it is not unusual to encounter diseases transmitted by ticks, such as Lyme disease or Borreliosis. This manifests itself in three stages, in the first a red rash appears in the sting site, in the second there is an enlarged liver and spleen, and finally in the third stage there are neurological impairments. As we mentioned, the problems related to the infestation of these parasites are numerous and can also involve humans. That is why it is important that in addition to Veterinaries, Pharmacists also provide appropriate information to prevent and eventually solve the resulting effects. There are many products on the market, and most do not require a prescription, so it is important that the pharmacist is informed about new products placed on the market, more effective and with fewer side effects for the animal and for humans, as they play a key role in health education, contributing to the spread of proper knowledge of the problems in the veterinary field.

Below some molecules used as such or in combinations with each other, for the prevention and / or treatment of infestation by ticks:

  • Tick removal
  • Repellents (Natural essences)
  • Neem Oil
  • Essential oil
  • Ectoparasiticides:
  • Chlornicotinylguanidine Imidacloprid
  • Phenylpyrazoles Fipronil
  • Carbamates Propoxur, Carbaryl
  • Diazinon pyrethroid, permethrin fenthion

Among the various pharmaceutical formulations the most evolved are the Spot-on preparations, for handling and safety of use. They are marketed in pre-dosed pipettes of 3-5ml and are applied at the scapular level, with monthly or bimonthly frequencies according to the environment in which one lives. Also, unlike the powder, they do not leave residues, therefore neither the operator nor the animal risk intoxication phenomena. While with the powders there is a reduction of the effectiveness in response to contact with water (rain and / or baths), this drawback is avoided with Spot-on as the active ingredient is absorbed in the skin and sebaceous glands from where it is released in 30-40gg, so always it remains in circulation without interference with external events. Spray are especially useful for products with a repellent activity (Neem oil and essential oils) because they can be used every night to increase the repellent effect even if cats are afraid of whistling sounds. In the US and other European states, products based on Neem oil are used by humans as tick repellents.