Leading parasitologists with the nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC, www.PetsandParasites.org) say the risk of Lyme disease will increase this fall. According to the organization's Fall 2012 CAPC Lyme Disease Forecast – only the second such Forecast ever issued – the disease will continue to spread southward through the United States and expand significantly along the West Coast.
Ticks transmit Lyme disease to pets and to people in every U.S. state, all year long. In fact, the adult ticks that transmit Lyme disease, known as lxodes scapularis ticks, are most active in many areas from October through March. So, winter temperatures do not necessarily insulate pets and people from the risk of infection from ticks.
"Pet parents often are less concerned about ticks in the fall and winter, but they're still out there," said Christopher Carpenter, DVM, MBA, executive director of the CAPC. "Our Fall 2012 Lyme Disease Forecast should remind people what veterinarians overwhelmingly recommend, which is year-round parasite prevention."
For fall, the CAPC Lyme Disease Forecast indicates:
- Continued high risk and expansion in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region;
- Continued expansion of high-risk areas in the upper Midwest, including large portions of most of the Great Lake states;
- Increasing risk in the Southeastern United States, including areas traditionally considered free of Lyme disease; and
- Significant geographic expansion of the disease along the West Coast.
The CAPC develops its Parasite Forecasts in partnership with some of the nation's foremost statisticians at Clemson University. Dr. Robert Lund, the Clemson team leader, has been building predictive models for the past 20 years and was instrumental in developing mathematical models used to assess temperature changes and hurricane activity in the United States. The academics complement the work of CAPC parasitologists – among only a handful of such experts in the country – who engage in ongoing research and data interpretation to better understand and monitor disease transmission and the changing life cycles of parasites.
The forecasts are based on an evolving mathematical model that combines historical data such as more than 1 million diagnostic results of Lyme disease testing at veterinary clinics across the country with changing variables that include weather conditions and trends, wildlife and human populations as well as human disease prevalence.
The CAPC hopes its Parasite Forecasts remind pet parents about the importance of preventives that eliminate the risk of infection by ticks and other parasites. To protect pets and families, the CAPC continues to recommend that all pet owners administer parasite control medication to dogs and cats year-round. Many parasite prevention products require a simple monthly application. Annual veterinarian checkups also are important so that pets may be tested and treated for any external or internal parasites that doctors find.
For more information about the CAPC, the number of dogs in your area that are affected by tick-borne illnesses and parasites, as well as disease prevention tips, please visit www.PetsandParasites.org.
SOURCE and LINK:
Companion Animal Parasite Council