On High Alert for Parasites


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Products and best practices veterinarians need to combat parasitic diseases in pets as temperatures warm up.

What was true before may not be true today when it comes to the local threat of parasites to our pets and families, said Heather Walden, MS, PhD, president of the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) Board and associate professor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Over the past 12 years, we have seen the movement of parasitic diseases and the vectors that carry them expand to new areas, signaling the need for pet owners to test their pets every year and protect them year-round.”

CAPC warned of higher-than-average parasitic disease risks and the continued expansion of heartworm, Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases throughout the United States. in its 2024 Pet Parasite Forecast and corresponding monthly prevalence maps at petdiseasealerts.org.

Ticks and mosquitoes remain the principal transmitters of pet and human vector-borne diseases. Specifically, tick-borne diseases Lyme, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis are advancing into places like North Carolina, Kentucky, and California, respectively. Mosquitoes are spreading heartworm disease throughout the mid-Atlantic region and pushing northward into densely populated areas.

CAPC said in a release that the risks of contracting Lyme, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and heartworm diseases are increasing due to many factors, including:

  • Rehoming of pets across the country
  • Land use, urbanization and human population growth
  • Changes in wildlife host and vector (mosquito and tick) densities
  • Recently discovered vectors, such as the invasive Asian long-horned tick in the eastern U.S.
  • Short- and long-term changes in climatic conditions
  • Increasing international trade and travel

In the following articles, Vet-Advantage spoke to experts on just how much has changed in the movement of the parasite population, what products the animal health industry has deployed in the fight against them, and how distributor reps can equip and assist their veterinary clinics as the threat of parasitic diseases grows for pets and humans.