The forecast is part of an initiative to raise awareness of tick-borne illness.
It's back to school time for most families, but the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) has been in session all summer. Together with our partners from Clemson University, we have been feverishly working on our Fall Forecast, which will focus on ticks and Lyme disease.
Christopher Carpenter, DVM, MBA
On October 4, Dr. Susan Little from Oklahoma State University and I will release the CAPC Fall Forecast to television and radio stations in a live satellite broadcast, as a part of our initiative to raise awareness of tick-borne illness and to drive pet owners into their clinics for parasite prevention.
We are extremely excited to have Dr. Robert Lund of Clemson University and his team of statisticians help us build the CAPC Forecast. Dr. Lund has built predictive models for the past 20 years and was instrumental in developing the current weather forecasting models used to predict hurricanes in the United States.
Earlier this summer, the CAPC parasitologists brought in tick, climate, and infectious disease experts from around the country to determine the most important variables for our forecast. In short, there's a lot of data and fancy math that goes into our predictive model. But for pet owners across the country, the result should be as easy as watching the daily weather report.
According to CAPC parasitologists, fall is the most active time of the year for the adult Ixodes scapularis tick, which is known to transmit Lyme disease in endemic areas. Surprisingly, the adults of this tick are active from October through March in many areas, and it's the adult tick that poses the highest risk of Lyme disease infection to dogs. So it's critical to maintain tick prevention all year long, especially when fall and winter weather conditions are unexpectedly mild.
The risk of Lyme disease applies to humans as well. Public health officials and scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that people in areas with a higher-than-average number of dogs with Lyme disease are at greater risk of contracting the disease themselves. Researchers reached these conclusions by cross-referencing data contained within the CAPC maps with U.S. national surveillance data on the occurrence of Lyme disease in people and published these findings in a 2011 paper.1 This information tells us that dogs serve as sentinels for tick-borne disease.
Because we know veterinarians are a critical factor in the parasite prevention equation and the best source of information on local parasites, we remain committed to driving pet owners into their local veterinary clinics. That's why all of our consumer efforts are focused on awareness, education, and action.
Be sure to watch your local news, send your clients to petsandparasites.org, and like us on Facebook for the latest predictions on Lyme disease across the country.
Christopher Carpenter, DVM, MBA, is the executive director of the Companion Animal Parasite Council.
1. Mead P, Goel R, Kugeler K. Canine serology as adjunct to human Lyme disease surveillance. Emerg Infect Dis 2011;17(9):1710-1712.