Companion Animal Parasite Council Releases its Annual Parasite Forecasts
Salem, Ore. (April 30, 2015) —The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), the leading expert on internal and external parasites that threaten the health of pets and people, has released its annual parasite forecasts. These forecasts measure multiple data points to calculate the probability of four key parasite-transmitted diseases: Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and heartworm. The forecasts show the threat of vector-borne diseases transmitted by ticks continues to be a year-round menace to both pets and pet owners.
The annual CAPC Parasite Forecasts are based on a model similar to that which is used to predict U.S. hurricanes. This model predicts activity based on factors such as temperature, precipitation and population density.
“One common pet owner misperception is that parasites are only active during warm weather,” said CAPC President Susan Little, DVM, PhD. “But different tick species are active at different times of the year, including in the cooler months. For example, adult black-legged or deer ticks, which transmit the agent of Lyme disease and other infections, are actually most active during the fall and winter months. When this longer activity is considered together with the increased geographic distribution, parasites, particularly ticks, are a year-round concern.”
“Because spring traditionally has been thought of as the start of ‘flea and tick season’ by pet owners, CAPC encourages veterinary practitioners to reach out to their clients now and start the dialogue about the importance of parasite control for their pets,” said Dr. Little.
For 2015, CAPC predicts the following risk areas for parasite-related diseases:
- Lyme disease is a high threat again this year in the New England and mid-Atlantic states and continues to spread westward with a higher than average risk forecast for the Upper Ohio Valley area and the Pacific Northwest.
- The risk of ehrlichiosis, another potentially fatal disease of dogs most common in the South, also appears to be a threat as far north as New England, as well as in far reaching areas of the country like California and the Southern Plains states.
- Anaplasmosis is poised to be highly active in the Great Lakes states, and New England could have an especially challenging year.
- Heartworm disease, a potentially fatal disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes, remains a consistent threat to the health of dogs and cats in the warmer Sunbelt states. The forecast also predicts a higher than normal threat of heartworm infection in the Upper Midwest states of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The CAPC forecasts have become a premier resource on parasite control, giving both veterinarians and pet owners a powerful tool to help plan year-round parasite protection for dogs and cats. CAPC also offers prevalence data that localizes reported parasitic disease activity to the county level. Veterinarians can use the data during a client consultation to ease into the conversation about parasite control because it’s relevant, local and current.
Studies show pet owners want to know about parasite risks and they want to know now. A 2014 industry study by CAPC and Bayer Healthcare Animal Health (Connecting with Today’s Client’s: The Importance of Local, Timely Parasite Information) polled 2,000 pet owners and found 90 percent want to be notified if there is a high incidence of parasites in their area, and two-thirds want to know this information immediately from the veterinarians. Additionally, 89 percent of pet owners said they were likely to make an appointment to get their pets tested based on the risk.
There are more than 175 million pet dogs and cats in the United States. However, only 60 percent of dogs are protected for parasite-transmitted diseases like Lyme borreliosis and heartworm disease. For cats, it’s fewer than four in 10. In many cases, pets serve as sentinels for tick-borne disease in humans.
“It is imperative that practitioners and pet owners work together and take the necessary preventive measures that not only safeguard the health of dogs and cats, but also can protect the whole family,” said Dr. Little. “CAPC offers a wide array of educational tools and information for both veterinarians and pet owners on our two websites: www.capcvet.org, our veterinary focused site, our consumer friendly www.petsandparasites.org, or the free CAPC App, which can be found in the iTunes App Store in the Medical category.”
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (www.capcvet.org) is an independent not-for-profit foundation comprised of parasitologists, veterinarians, medical, public health and other professionals that provides information for the optimal control of internal and external parasites that threaten the health of pets and people. Formed in 2002, CAPC works to help veterinary professionals and pet owners develop the best practices in parasite management that protect pets from parasitic infections and reduce the risk of zoonotic parasite transmission.