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Some news from Emilio DeBess DVM, our state veterinarian:

Of the more than 160 million dogs and cats in the U.S., millions are infected each year by ticks and heartworms. Only about half are protected. What’s worse? Some of these parasites carry diseases that can be transmitted to YOU. NOW is the time to protect your family and pet!

Much like the National Weather Service can forecast weather, the nonprofit Companion Animal Prasite Council (CAPC) forecasts how bad the parasite season will be.

Based on a model similar to that used to predict U.S. hurricanes, the annual CAPC Parasite Forecasts predicts activity based on factors like temperature, precipitation, and population density. For 2014, CAPC forecasts the following risk areas for tick-related diseases this summer – and beyond:

  • Historically a Northeastern threat, Lyme Disease is spreading westward to areas of the Midwest and southward through the Mid-Atlantic states.
  • New England and the Pacific Northwest will continue to be hotspots for Lyme Disease activity.
  • The risk of ehrlichiosis, which is spread by ticks like the American Dog Tick, is forecast to be very high from Virginia to Texas, and as far west as California.

Additionally, the threat of Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, is expected to be very high with levels of infection higher than normal in Texas, the Southeast, and along the Pacific coast from northern California to Washington state.

To keep pets and people safe from ticks and other parasites, CAPC recommends:

  • Administering year-round protection against ticks, heartworm, and other parasites.
  • Regular exams with your veterinarian; some recommend more than just annually
  • Monitoring tick and heartworm diseases in your area checking the Parasite Prevalence Maps at www.petsandparasites.org
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