Companion Animal Parasite Council Annual Forecast Predicts 2017 Hotbed For Heartworm

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The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), the leading source on parasitic diseases that threaten the health of pets and people, offers prevalence data that localizes reported parasitic disease activity at the county level for veterinarians to use in their discussions about annual testing and year-round protection. This information is available for free at the CAPC website http://www.petsandparasites.org

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CAPC's annual forecasts provide important information to help veterinarians and pet owners understand parasites are a true risk to both pets and people.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), the leading source on parasitic diseases that threaten the health of pets and people, has released its annual parasite forecasts. The big story this year is the impact the milder temperatures and increased precipitation has had on mosquitoes. Shifting weather patterns have created ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes across the country. Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease which can be deadly to pets.

Heartworm isn’t the only parasite pet owners will need to be watchful for. CAPC also predicts the spread of Lyme disease into non-endemic 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 and pet owners to see that parasites are ever changing and widespread, sometimes surprisingly so.”

The forecasts support CAPC’s recommendation for annual testing and having pets on preventativie year round. For 2017, CAPC predicts the following risk areas for parasite-related diseases:

  • Infection with heartworm, which causes a potentially fatal disease and is transmitted by mosquitoes, 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 hyper-endemic prevalence seen in the lower Mississippi River region will be even more active than normal. Veterinarians in the Rockies and westward, where heartworm is traditionally not seen, may see a problematic rise in heartworm infections among their patients.
  • Lyme disease is a high threat again 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, DC 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. The state of New York and Western Pennsylvania are also forecasted to have an active year. Both Wisconsin and Minnesota, which are traditional hotspots will have below normal prevalence this year.
  • Ehrlichiosis is geographically a challenge. 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 prevalence data that localizes reported parasitic disease activity at the county level for veterinarians to use in their discussions about annual testing and year-round protection. This information is available for free at the CAPC website http://www.petsandparasites.org. Pet owners can use these maps as a reminder of the importance of year-round protection.

The Parasite Forecasts represent the collective expert opinion of academic parasitologists who engage in ongoing research and data interpretation to better understand and monitor vector-borne disease agent transmission and changing life cycles of parasites. The annual CAPC Parasite Forecasts are based on many factors including temperature, precipitation and population density.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (http://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, the 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.

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Catherine Haskins
Haskins Consulting
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