To assess knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) of veterinary personnel and pet owners regarding ticks and tick-borne diseases in Alaska and to conduct a serosurvey for tick-borne disease pathogens among domestic animals visiting veterinary clinics for preventative care.
Across 8 veterinary clinics, we sampled 31 veterinary personnel, 81 pet owners, 102 client-owned dogs, and 1 client-owned cat.
Information on KAP among veterinary staff and pet owners was collected via self-administered questionnaires. Tick and tick-borne disease prevalence were assessed via tick checks and benchtop ELISA antibody tests detecting Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Anaplasma platys, Erlichia canis, Erlichia ewingii, and Borrelia burgdorferi.
The veterinary personnel KAP survey showed a low average knowledge score (53.5%) but a moderate attitude score (71.7%). In contrast, owner average knowledge score was higher (67.5%) and attitude score was comparatively low (50.6%). Both veterinary personnel and owners had low average practice scores (64.5% and 56.3%, respectively). One dog was positive for anaplasmosis (unknown species) antibody, and 1 dog was positive for B burgdorferi antibody. No ticks were found during the study.
This study was the first of its kind in the state and indicated a low prevalence of ticks and tick-borne diseases in the domestic pet population and highlighted significant knowledge gaps that could be targeted by public health efforts. Our results suggest the value of a One Health approach and of the veterinary-client relationship to address ticks and tick-borne diseases.