The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) has just released its annual parasite forecasts for 2019, predicting an increase in the prevalence of heartworm and Lyme disease. CACP predicts that heartworm will continue to spread in the US at higher than average rates, especially in areas of the Southeastern United States (remember — this is where most of the rescue dogs coming into Wisconsin shelters and humane societies are originating from); the forecast for Lyme disease is for a continued increase in cases in the Atlantic Coast and the Midwest. These infections represent significant health hazards to pets and can be deadly in some cases; the good news is that they are preventable!

 

A Summary of this year’s CAPC risk Assessment for pets regarding Heartworm and Lyme disease is as follows:

According to CAPC, the risk of acquiring heartworm disease in 2019 is very real due to the expansive nature of the disease. This increase in heartworm prevalence can be attributed to weather and the transportation of companion animals from one area of the country to another. A warmer than usual and humid weather pattern has created an ideal breeding condition for mosquitoes across the country. Mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of the parasite that causes heartworm disease. Heartworm disease can be deadly to pets.  heartworm and lyme disease

Heartworm isn’t the only threat pet owners will need to be watchful for. CAPC also predicts that Lyme disease will be higher in three key areas this year, most notably throughout the Appalachian region, Minnesota/Wisconsin and the Atlantic Coast. Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks and is spreading as the white-tailed deer population grows, and migratory birds carry ticks to new areas.

Veterinarians and pet owners heartworm and Lyme Diseaseshould test annually and use tick preventatives on pets year-round. High-risk patients for the vector-borne disease should be tested and consider vaccination for Lyme disease. 

 

The forecasts support CAPC’s recommendation for annual testing and having pets on preventative treatment year-round. For 2019, CAPC predicts the following risk areas for parasite-related diseases:

Infection with heartworm, which causes a potentially fatal disease, is expected to be higher than average in the south-central and southeastern states. The areas of greatest concern are those along the Mississippi River from northern Louisiana all the way into Illinois. Also, areas with historically lower prevalences of heartworm should particularly take note of predicted higher prevalence, including Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. Southern Louisiana and a small area along the Texas border are currently forecasted to be lower than average. Pet owners should take extra care to limit their Mississippi Riverpets’ exposure to mosquitoes, test their pets annually for heartworm diseases and use heartworm preventatives year-round.

Lyme disease is a high threat again this year and is “oozing” into the entire Appalachian region, the Atlantic Coast, and throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota. Pets living in or traveling to these states are considered at high risk; pet owners should talk to their veterinarian about a Lyme vaccination in addition to testing for the disease and protecting year-round against ticks.

Transmission of the agents of anaplasmosis is again forecasted to be average for much of the United States. However, northwestern Minnesota is forecasted to have an active year. There are some bright spots which are expected to see less activity than normal, including the Atlantic coast of New England, the Wisconsin/Minnesota border, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and southern Texas.

Ehrlichiosis is expected to be higher throughout the south-central United States, particularly in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri. There are several small areas scattered throughout the south-central and southeastern states that are predicted to be lower than average, most notably eastern Arkansas and across the border of North Carolina and Virginia.

 

Annual Forecasts Based on Many Factors

These parasite forecasts represent collect expert opinion of academic parasitologists’ who participate in ongoing research and data collection/interpretation to better understand and monitor vector-borne disease transmission and the changing life cycles of parasites. These annual forecasts are based on many factors that include temperature, precipitation, and population density.

Interested pet owners can monitor the activity of these diseases across the country as well as in their own counties throughout the year. CAPC 30-Day Parasite Forecast Maps are now available free of charge at www.petdiseasealerts.org. These maps provide a local forecast for every county in the continental United States and are updated monthly. You can also find the map here on our blog.

These maps and reports are invaluable resources for veterinarians in helping shape the recommendations given to you, the pet owner, to help you keep your pets healthy and happy. Based on these recommendations and those of previous years; We, the doctors of Brook-Falls Veterinary Hospital, make the following recommendations. PEt Exam

For Dogs: All dogs, in our area, should be receiving year-round heartworm, as well as, flea/tick prevention. They should be annually tested for heartworm and screened for the tick-borne diseases with an Accuplex blood test. Additionally, all dogs should receive annual Lyme vaccinations.

For Cats: All indoor/outdoor cats should be receiving flea/tick prevention, as well as, heartworm prevention monthly. All indoor-only cats, need to be receiving minimally, heartworm prevention on a monthly basis.

If you have any questions regarding appropriate prevention meds or options for your pet, need to schedule a heartworm /tick screening or Lyme vaccine for your dog, or if you are unsure whether your pet is “up to date,” call the hospital, and we will be glad to assist you. You can also set up an appointment online.

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