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CAPC releases new parasite guidelines


Orlando-The U.S. Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) released new internal/external parasite guidelines to improve prevention, treatment and monitoring of parasitic diseases.

Orlando-The U.S. Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) released new internal/external parasite guidelines to improve prevention, treatment and monitoring of parasitic diseases.

The multi-disciplinary council brings together wide expertise in parasitology, internal medicine, public health, veterinary law, private practice and association leadership.

According to Dr. Gary Holfinger, who unveiled the guidelines at the recently concluded North American Veterinary Conference, says: "The truth is that most parasite-related illness is preventable in our pets. Yet, parasites cause disease-and even death-in thousands of cats and dogs each year, while putting their human caretakers at risk.

He adds: "Veterinarians today have an arsenal of safe, effective and affordable products to prevent the most common parasites of companion animals. However, failure to prescribe and administer these products properly reduces their effectiveness."

The council has four major objectives:

  • Adoption of practice and procedures to protect pets from parasitic infections.

  • Adoption of practices and procedures to reduce the risk of transmission of zoonotic parasites.

  • 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.

CAPC says that the foundation for the new guidelines is year-round administration of broad-spectrum parasiticides that protect against heartworm and intestinal nematodes along with lifelong protection against external parasites.

Unpredictability of parasite life cycles can make it a challenge for seasonal or partial-year protection to effectively combat infection and disease, point out that it is difficult to predict the presence of mosquitoes infected with heartworm, and pets can harbor and shed intestinal parasites throughout the year.

Holfinger adds, "Seasonal protection is further complicated by the fact that pets often travel with their owners without the owners amending their parasiticide regimen accordingly. Finally, when you consider the poor compliance levels associated with even partial-year protection, it's easy to see why we have such a high level of parasitism in spite of convenient, affordable preventives."

CAPC is described as an independent council of U.S. veterinary governmental and association thought leaders "brought together to create guidelines for optimal control of internal and external parasites that threaten the health of pets and people.

Other CAPC members include: Drs. Clarke Atkins, North Carolina State University; Byron Blagburn, Auburn University; Dwight Bowman, Cornell University; Michael Dryden, Kansas State University; Jeanne Eisenhour, Perrysburg, Ohio; Kevin R. Kazacos, Purdue University; Charlotte Lacroix, Whitehouse Station, N.J., Eugenia Marcus, MD, Newton, Mass.; Leonard Marcus, Newton, Mass., Kathleen T. Neuhoff, Mishawaka, Ind.; Mike Paul, Anguilla, British West Indies; Peter Schantz, Atlanta, Ga.; and Michael Thomas, Indianapolis.

Compliance for parasite preventives is low, CAPC says. In fact, the 2003 American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) compliance survey says more than 48 percent of dog owners were found to be either not giving their dogs heartworm preventives or not giving them as recommended by their veterinarian.

Compliance matters

Meanwhile, another recent survey revealed that while an estimated 77 percent of veterinarians currently recommend year-round administration of heartworm preventives, only half of owners report they follow this recommendation. At the same time, dogs and cats continue to be infected with intestinal parasites at a comparatively high rate, increasing the opportunity for transmission to people, CAPC reports. Nationwide, 34 percent of dogs are infected with gastrointestinal parasites, with up to 54 percent infected in southeastern states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that between 1 million to 3 million people are zoonotically infected with toxocara migrans each year.

CAPC's guidelines are separated into categories like consideration of pet health and lifestyle factors; lifelong prevention of common internal and external parasites; environmental control of parasite transmission; staff pet owner and community education; owner considerations in preventing zoonotic disease.

The guidelines

The guidelines also outline proper diagnostic techniques for veterinary professionals with an emphasis on properly conducted fecal examinations.

Blagburn explains, "The accuracy of fecal examinations is greatly influenced by sample size and quality as well as examination technique and timing." The guidelines recommend annual fecal examinations in adult pets using centrifugal flotation technique, and encourage multiple examinations for younger animals.

Blagburn says regular fecal examinations greatly increase the ability of veterinary professionals to provide information-based recommendations, adding that the risks posed by inadequate testing and techniques are too great to ignore.

For more information call (877) CAPC-ORG or go to www.capcvet.org.

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