The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) is confirming what many already know: milder winter temperatures, increased precipitation and general shifting weather patterns have created ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes across the country.
Besides heartworm, CAPC predicts Lyme disease will spread into nonendemic areas, including the Dakotas, Iowa, Missouri, Southern Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina.
“Our annual forecasts provide important information to help veterinarians and pet owners understand parasites are a true risk to both pets and people,” said Dr. Dwight Bowman, CAPC board member and professor of parasitology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. “This year, there are significant shifts in prevalence, making our maps a critical educational tool for veterinary hospitals, and allow veterinarians to demonstrate to pet owners that parasites are ever changing and widespread, sometimes surprisingly so.”
The forecasts support CAPC’s recommendation for annual testing and having pets on preventive year-round. For 2017, CAPC predicts the following risk areas for parasite-related diseases:
- Heartworm infection is expected to be above average nationwide. The only area of the country expected to see below normal heartworm activity is in Western Texas from Amarillo to Laredo. The forecast also predicts the hyperendemic prevalence seen in the lower Mississippi River region will be even more active than normal. Veterinarians in the Rockies and westward, where heartworm traditionally is not seen, may see a problematic rise in heartworm infections among their patients.
- Lyme disease also is a high threat this year. Ticks that transmit the agent of Lyme disease have expanded their range from New York to Western Wisconsin. Western Pennsylvania, especially in Pittsburgh is forecasted to be even more problematic this year. There is good news for the Atlantic Seaboard (I-95 Corridor) from Washington, D.C., to Boston, where this area is forecasted to get some relief this year, but only slightly.
- Transmission of the agents of anaplasmosis continues to be a problem in Northern California and Southern Oregon. New York State and Western Pennsylvania also are forecasted to have an active year. Traditional hotspots Wisconsin and Minnesota will have below normal prevalence this year.
- Ehrlichiosis is a challenge geographically. The disease can be nonexistent to rampant within 200 miles. Eastern Oklahoma, Ohio River Valley, Southern Virginia and Northern North Carolina are forecasted to see a very active year. The Great Plains region is forecasted to have a below normal prevalence.
CAPC offers Parasite Forecasts that localize reported parasitic disease activity at the county level for veterinarians to use in its discussions about annual testing and year-round protection. This information is available for free at the CAPC website at www.capcvet.org. Practices can use these maps as an educational tool to stress the importance of year-round protection.
Originally published in the May 2017 issue of Veterinary Practice News. Did you enjoy this article? Then subscribe today!