Building the CAPC Parasite Forecasts
Clemson and the Companion Animal Parasite Council partner to predict parasite prevalence
As a mathematician, statistician and Clemson University professor, I have been studying weather patterns and climatic conditions for 20 years. I helped develop the mathematical models used to assess temperature and hurricane changes in the United States and enjoy the challenge of analyzing various factors to identify commonalities and trends.
So, when the nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) approached me and Clemson about partnering on a project that would hinge on creating a reliably predictive, mathematical model, I was happy to join the team. I coordinate the efforts of Clemson experts – some of the country’s leading statisticians – to complement the insights of CAPC parasitologists and build “Parasite Forecasts.” We rely on mathematical principles, past experience and related data to calculate which parts of the country will have parasite population flares or increasing parasitic disease incidence in the coming months.
The ever-evolving CAPC Parasite Forecast model combines historical data such as parasitic disease test results from veterinary clinics across the country and changing variables that include weather conditions, vegetation indices, wildlife populations, human population density and human disease prevalence.
The CAPC-Clemson team regularly evaluates the variables included in the predictive model to improve accuracy. We add, subtract, or more heavily weigh some factors in a given year, depending on changing conditions.
While a lot of complex math, data, and a significant amount of analysis go into the CAPC Parasite Forecasts, the bottom line is simple: Parasites pose threats to both pets and people no matter the season, and it’s important to guard against them. The parasite experts at the CAPC say they are preventable with year-round, easy-to-administer medication.
I’m proud to be part of the process and involved with the CAPC, an organization dedicated to helping pet owners and veterinarians keep their animals and families healthy. I look forward to the evolution and refinement of the Parasite Forecasts, as we continue to help educate people about parasite risks and provide reminders to follow veterinarians’ recommendations for parasite prevention measures.