Elevated heartworm risk forecast for 2016by by Dwight Bowman, MS, PhD and Rick Marrinson, DVM
Despite the fact that heartworm disease is preventable, infections continue to grow in number and geographic distribution. This year, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) is expecting higher than normal levels of heartworm transmission nationwide.
Areas of particular concern include northern California and southern Florida. Above average activity is also predicted for New Mexico, where the influence of El Nino is expected to result in higher than normal mosquito populations. Elevated heartworm disease transmission is also expected to spread from the hyper-endemic lower Mississippi River region to eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and southern Indiana.
Year-round protection, annual testing
The best way to protect your patients is to advise owners of the importance of year-round prevention, even during the winter months. You can use the CAPC Parasite Prevalence Maps to support your recommendation by underscoring the risks in your area and in regions of the country your clients may travel with their pets.
It’s also critical to emphasize the importance of compliance and using products according to label. CAPC recommends that all dogs be tested annually for both heartworm antigens and microfilariae, even if they are on year-round preventives.
The science behind the forecasts
How are the CAPC Heartworm Forecasts determined? Numerous factors are analyzed, including the number of positive heartworm tests and the influence of weather patterns, vegetation indices, the changing distribution of wildlife that may harbor the parasite, and human population density. Leading parasitologists work in collaboration with a team of statisticians to identify regions of the country that may experience higher parasite incidence in the months ahead. While these forecasts predict the potential risk of a dog testing positive, they do not necessarily reflect clinical disease. Learn more
Drive office visits with local parasite data
In a recent study, 90 percent of pet owners surveyed said they want their veterinarians to provide them with local parasite prevalence data.1 With this information, 89 percent of pet owners are likely to make an appointment with their veterinarians.1 See why communicating parasite prevalence to clients is a public service they really want.
With the CAPC Parasite Forecast Maps, you can help alert pet owners of potential risks in the year ahead and motivate them to safeguard their pets. You can also use the Parasite Prevalence Maps to educate owners on the number of dogs testing positive for heartworm in your county, state and other areas of the country.
The CAPC mobile app makes it easy to provide owners with current information in the exam room. Download the free CAPC app from iTunes in the Medical category.
Because mosquito activity and heartworm transmission can change, CAPC can provide you with email alerts for your area. Sign up now
As always, you are the best resource for pet owners on current parasite activity that could impact their dogs and cats. Your recommendations can help protect your patients and reinforce the bond with your clients.
1 A nationwide survey of 2,000 pet owners conducted by CAPC and Bayer Animal Health. Connecting with today’s clients: the importance of local, timely parasite information, 2015.