Winter lulls many people into a false sense of security when it comes to ticks and the risk of contracting diseases they carry, because it’s commonly held that these blood-sucking parasites cannot survive in colder temperatures.
The reality is that ticks transmit disease 12 months of the year, in every U.S. state, and the adult tick that transmits Lyme disease is most active from October through March. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the incidence of Lyme disease, which affects tens of thousands of pets and humans every year, is growing. That’s not surprising when you consider that the areas of high risk are expanding.
To put those risks into perspective, the CAPC has issued the 2012 Fall Parasite Forecast for Lyme disease. Developed through an ongoing partnership between our experts – the nation’s foremost parasitologists, and renowned statisticians from Clemson University, the CAPC Parasite Forecasts serve as reminders for pet owners to work with their veterinarians to make sure their pets are protected from ticks every month of the year.
The CAPC 2012 Fall Lyme Disease Forecast calls for increased risk in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region, the upper Midwest, the Southeastern United States and all along the West Coast. The disease incidence is steadily spreading southward, even into some areas traditionally free or with low incidence of Lyme disease such as the Midwest and parts of the Southeast. The Northeast continues as the most Lyme endemic region of the country. Check out our Forecast map to see historical prevalence and predicted hotspots for Lyme disease over the next year.
While pet owners cannot “catch” Lyme disease from animals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that dogs serve as sentinels for the infection. The CDC analyzed various data, including information from the CAPC’s parasite prevalence maps, and concluded that people who live in areas with a higher-than-average number of dogs with Lyme disease are at greater risk of contracting it. Additionally, untreated pets can bring infected ticks into your home or yard, underscoring the importance of year-round use of tick control pet products.
Each year, millions of pets are infected by parasitic diseases, yet only about half of the 78 million pet dogs in the United States are protected. That means too many of our beloved pets unnecessarily suffer and sometimes die from preventable conditions. Pet owners can and should thwart parasitic diseases with year-round, easy-to-administer medication. As a pet owner myself, I rank parasite control as critical to my dog’s health as vaccinations and regular checkups.
No one is more important to your dog’s well-being than your veterinarian, the local expert on parasitic conditions. Make sure to consult veterinary doctors about which parasite preventives are best for your pet and your family’s lifestyle.
To find out more about how many pets in your neighborhood are affected by parasitic diseases, consult the CAPC’s prevalence maps. You can find out how high the infection risks are for numerous conditions in your county or state and use that information as a jumping-off point for discussions with your veterinarian.
Winter is no substitute for parasite prevention. No matter where you live or what season it is, dogs deserve to be protected from threats that ticks and other creepy crawlers pose.