For Pets, No Relief From Parasites in 2016

Depending on where they live, dogs and cats face further torment from ticks and mosquitoes.

CAPC’s 2015 heartworm map revealed that more than 115,000 U.S. dogs tested positive for the disease.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council gazed into the future and doesn’t like what’s coming.

The risk of heartworm infection? Above average nationwide.

Lyme disease and other tick-related illnesses? Worse in places.

The Salem, Ore., organization’s computer models for 2016, released today, predict growing threats to dogs or cats from a number of vector-borne diseases.

“We use our annual forecast to help veterinarians and pet owners understand parasites are a true risk to both pets and people,” said CAPC’s president, Susan Little, DVM, Ph.D.

CAPC tracks and maps cases of tick-borne disease, intestinal parasites and heartworm using test results collected by Idexx Laboratories Inc. and Antech Diagnostics. Results are continually updated on the website www.capcvet.org.

Already in 2016, according to the latest figures, Lyme disease has been confirmed in 1-in-16 U.S. dogs, or nearly 35,000 pets out of more than a half-million tested. With heartworm, just over 1 percent of the 1.6 million dogs tested were positive. The percentage may be small, but it was still bad news for almost 23,000 canines.

For the entire year, CAPC predicts:

  • Growing risk of Lyme disease in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Kentucky as ticks expand their range. The New England states—traditionally ground zero for Lyme—should see below average infection rates.
  • Greater danger from the tick-linked disease ehrlichiosis in the usual hotspots of Missouri, Oklahoma and western Texas. Southern California and the southeastern United States east of the Mississippi River are expected to be problem areas, too.
  • Heightened hazards from anaplasmosis, another tick-based illness, in Northern California, New York, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
  • Widespread peril nationwide from mosquito-transmitted heartworm disease. Cat and dog owners in eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and southern Indiana should take extra precautions.

CAPC urged veterinary practices to talk to clients about year-round parasite preventives—from collars to medications—and to illustrate disease risks by displaying the organization’s maps, which break down numbers to the county level.

“The maps … are critical educational tools for veterinary hospitals and allow veterinarians to demonstrate to pet owners that parasites are ever-changing and widespread, sometimes surprisingly so,” Dr. Little said.

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