CAPC Predicts Lyme Disease Extremely High This Year
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), a nonprofit organization of leading veterinary parasitologists, predicts the threat of Lyme disease for dogs will be extremely high this year. The forecast, the only one of its kind for parasites, was developed in partnership with Clemson University statisticians also responsible for developing the model for severe weather forecasting.
Ticks are carriers of many diseases, including Lyme disease. Symptoms in dogs often include lameness due to inflammation of the joints, lack of appetite and depression. More serious complications include damage to the kidney, and rarely heart or nervous system disease. While the disease cannot be transmitted from dogs to humans, frequency of dog infections is often an indicator of the potential for human exposure.
"In addition to the Lyme disease forecast, our CAPC website offers predictions of other disease threats for pets such as heartworm, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis," explains Dr. Chris Carpenter, CAPC executive director. "While virtually all infestations of parasites are preventable, estimates indicate that fewer than half the dogs in the country are protected. Prevention is easy and relatively affordable when compared to the cost and heartache of treating a sick pet."
CAPC based its parasite forecast on factors including temperature, dew point, humidity, precipitation, elevation, forest cover, population density, reported human Lyme disease cases and deer strikes by car. The forecast is also the collective expert opinion of respected parasitologists, who engage in ongoing research and data interpretation to better understand and monitor disease transmission and changing life cycles.
Prevention is the best medicine
To prevent any type of infection or infestation, CAPC recommends year-round parasite-control medication for dogs and cats, which often requires a monthly application. In addition, CAPC's guidelines recommend regular examinations — at least annually — by a veterinarian.
To fully understand the threat of disease to dogs and cats in their immediate area, pet owners may sign up for regular email updates by visiting petsandparasites.org. The parasite prevalence maps share specific numbers of diagnosed cases by county. In addition, pet owners will be alerted when new forecast information is available. The localized forecasting is especially valuable for pet owners who travel with their animals, allowing owners to protect their pet from potential infestations in new areas.