CAPC Reports Higher Rate Of Feline Heartworm And Roundworm

Posted: June 23, 2011, 5:15 p.m., EDT


Cats need better protection from heartworms and roundworms, data collected by laboratories for Idexx, Antech and Banfield Pet Hospitals in 2010 shows.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) announced the results today. The results of the national sample can be found on the CAPC website, which allows viewers to search for canine or feline infection rate results by state, county and type of parasite.

Six percent of 780,000 nationally collected fecal samples from cared-for cats contained the eggs of the feline roundworm, Toxocara cati. Of the 4 million cared-for canine fecal samples examined, the national average was 2.9 percent containing the eggs of Toxocara canis. Only four states – Alaska, Arizona, California and Nevada – had a higher percentage of dogs that were infected with roundworms than cats.

A higher percentage of cats tested positive for heartworms than dogs in every state except for Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. For the 250,000 feline samples and 5 million canine samples, the national averages were 2.7 percent of cats being positive and 1.2 percent of dogs testing positive. About three out of every 100 cats tested positive for heartworm antigen, an indicator that these positive cats have living heartworms in their lungs, according to the CAPC.

Feline antigen data should be considered with caution because cats are more likely to be tested only when ill, but surveys utilizing other detection methods have revealed similar prevalence, according to a release from CAPC.

The numbers from these maps suggest that heartworm preventives with broad-spectrum internal parasite control are reducing the worm populations in dogs, but that cats are not receiving the same protection.  CAPC recommends all U.S. dogs and cats receive annual prevention against heartworm, intestinal parasites and ectoparasites.

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