An assessment of equine veterinarian knowledge and perceptions of ticks and tick-borne diseases in the United States to inform continuing education needs

Erika T. Machtinger, Danielle N. Smarsh, Laura B. Kenny, Karen C. Poh, Erin L. Orr-Gissinger, Brittani G. Kirkland, Hayley R. Springer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Ticks can harm horses and transmit diseases, making them a growing concern for owners and veterinarians. Veterinarians play a crucial role in providing advice on tick prevention and control. Yet, no research has examined their perspectives on equine ticks and tick-borne disease (TBD). Objectives: The objective was to assess equine veterinarians' experiences, knowledge and practices related to fundamental aspects of tick biology and identification, tick bite prevention and TBD in the United States. Study design: This project surveyed equine veterinarians in the United States about their knowledge of ticks and TBD affecting horses using nonprobability convenience sampling. The survey questions were grouped into six categories: respondent demographics, knowledge of ticks and TBDs, tick control option availability, tick and TBD frequency in horses and veterinary education and information availability. Methods: Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, chi-square analysis and t-tests. The sample was divided into Northeast and United States veterinarians, and a significance level of p < 0.05 was set. The study aimed to inform continuing education development for veterinarians by assessing their knowledge, practices and perceptions of ticks and TBDs. Results: The results indicate that while equine veterinarians know the importance of TBDs in equine health, knowledge on ticks and TBDs varies significantly. Main limitations: Limitations for the current study include potential response bias and a limited sample from many states. Conclusions: There is a need for increased tick control and prevention options and more animal-specific resources for tick and TBD prevention. Veterinarians and horse owners require greater education and comprehensive information to prevent tick-borne illnesses in horses. Collaborations between academia, industry and the human medicine community are suggested to build capacity for training veterinarians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEquine Veterinary Education
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Equine

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