Q. What is the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC)?
A. The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) is an independent council of veterinary practitioners, parasitologists, physicians, legal experts and others working together to create guidelines for optimal control of internal and external parasites that threaten the health of pets and people.
Formed in 2002, CAPC is the first and only task force in the United States created for the explicit purpose of reducing the risks posed by parasites. The council has developed guidelines designed to shape protocols for parasite prevention, treatment and monitoring, as well as recommendations for staff and client education.
The CAPC guidelines are based on the premise that internal and external parasites pose a significant health risk to both pets and people, and can only be overcome if treatment and prevention protocol is universally enforced.
Q. What does CAPC do?
A. The mission of CAPC is to foster animal and human health, while preserving the human-animal bond, through recommendations for the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control of parasitic infections.
Through its guidelines, CAPC promotse and facilitates:
- Adoption of practices and procedures to protect pets from parasitic infections;
- Adoption of practices and procedures to reduce the risk of transmission of zoonotic parasites to humans;
- Collaboration among pet owners, veterinarians and physicians to control parasitic infections; and
- Collaboration with other groups who share the common interests of parasite control and animal and human health.
Q. Why are CAPC and its guidelines necessary?
A. CAPC was developed in response to an agreement among veterinary thought leaders that current protocols to prevent parasitism in pets and people have proven incomplete. Despite the availability of safe, effective and affordable preventives for common internal and external parasites, statistics illustrate that parasites are not as properly managed as they could be:
- More than 21.5 million dog owners were found to be either not giving their dogs heartworm preventives or not administering them as recommended by their veterinarian.
- While an estimated 77 percent of veterinarians currently recommend year-round administration of heartworm preventives, only half of owners report they follow these instructions; the result is that more than 240,000 dogs are diagnosed annually with heartworm infection.
- Nationwide, almost 34 percent of shelter dogs are infected with gastrointestinal parasites, with as many as 52 percent infected in southeastern states.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that between 1 and 3 million people are zoonotically infected with toxocara migrans each year.
CAPC members believe that the number of pets and people affected by parasites can be greatly reduced with improved parasite prevention protocols and greater attention to educational efforts that support client compliance in following preventive measures. A central tenet of this effort involves increasing the frequency of and improving the accuracy of monitoring methods?especially fecal examinations?veterinarians employ to diagnose and treat existing infections.
Q. What steps are recommended in the CAPC guidelines?
- Administer year-round treatment with heartworm preventives that have broad-spectrum activity against parasites with zoonotic potential.
- Administer preventive flea and/or tick products year-round.
- Conduct annual physical examination with complete history.
- Conduct annual heartworm infection testing in dogs and periodic testing in cats.
- Feed pets cooked or prepared food (not raw meat) and provide fresh, potable water.
- Conduct fecal examinations two to four times during the first year of life and one to two times per year in adults, depending on patient health and lifestyle factors.
- Administer anthelmintic treatment of puppies at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age, followed by administration of a monthly preventive.
- Administer biweekly anthelmintic treatment of kittens between 3 and 9 weeks, followed by administration of a monthly preventive.
- Treat nursing bitches and queens along with their offspring.
- Counsel pet owners to collect and dispose of feces regularly.
- Tailor parasite prevention programs to parasite prevalence and pet lifestyle factors.
If optimal year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite products are not used:
- Deworm puppies at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age.
- In kittens, begin biweekly anthelmintic treatment between 3 and 9 weeks of age and then again monthly until 6 months of age.
- Conduct fecal examinations two to four times a year in adult pets, depending on patient health and lifestyle factors, and treat with appropriate parasiticides.
- Test for heartworm status yearly in dogs and/or before starting preventive medications.
Q. Who developed the CAPC guidelines?
A. The Companion Animal Parasite Council includes a number of veterinary practitioners, parasitologists, physicians, legal experts and others. Charter members included:
Clarke Atkins, DVM, Diplomate, ACVIM
Department of Clinical Sciences
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
Byron Blagburn, PhD
Department of Pathobiology
Dwight Bowman, MS, PhD
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Ithaca, New York
Michael Dryden, DVM, Diplomate, MS, PhD
Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology
Kansas State University
Jeanne Eisenhour, DVM
South Suburban Animal Clinic
Gary Holfinger, DVM
East Suburban Animal Clinic
Kevin R. Kazacos, DVM, PhD
Department of Veterinary Medicine
West Lafayette, Indiana
Charlotte Lacroix, DVM, Esq.
Priority Veterinary Legal Consultants
Whitehouse Station, New Jersey
Eugenia Marcus, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Health Care
Leonard Marcus, VMD, MD
Travelers' Health and Immunization Services
Kathleen T. Neuhoff, DVM, Diplomate, ABVP
Magrane Pet Medical Center
Mike Paul, DVM
Anguilla, British West Indies
Peter M. Schantz, VMD, PhD
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Michael Thomas, DVM
Noah's Animal Hospital
CAPC is designed as a dynamic task force, with members revolving on and off the council as specific expert needs are met and new challenges emerge. Check the Members Bios section for current member bios.
Q. What is the ongoing role of CAPC?
A. The initial guidelines address the most common internal and external parasites, including heartworms, ascarids, hookworms, whipworms, fleas and ticks, and continuing efforts are underway to address additional parasite risks.
CAPC also pursues education efforts designed to raise the level of care provided by veterinary professionals, human health care professionals and pet owners, and stay abreast of the latest breakthroughs in parasite management. The group will update the CAPC guidelines as necessary and work to ensure its position as a leading resource in companion animal parasitology.
Q. Who supports CAPC efforts?
A. The Companion Animal Parasite Council is funded by a number of industry sponsors. Check the Sponsors page for a current list.