Heartworm, Lyme diseases threaten pets in 2018

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Heartworm disease and Lyme disease are expected to be increased threats this year.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council, in an announcement published April 18, predicted higher than usual heartworm transmission rates throughout the U.S. in 2018. Hot, wet weather in 2016 and 2017 was ideal for breeding mosquitoes.

Heartworm prevalence forecast, 2018
U.S. map of heartworm prevalence forecast, 2018
(Courtesy of CAPC)

CAPC officials also wrote that heartworm-positive dogs relocated throughout the U.S. following 2017 storms likely will contribute to heartworm transmission.

The organization predicts transmission will be especially high in the lower Mississippi River region, where heartworm disease is "hyper-endemic."

The council also predicts spread of Lyme disease into nonendemic areas, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, southern Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Migratory birds and a growing white-tailed deer population are carrying the ticks that transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease into new areas, CAPC information states.

Western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, West Virginia, and the Appalachian region of Virginia need to prepare for increased prevalence of Lyme disease, the announcement states. The District of Columbia, Philadelphia, and Boston areas are expected to have lower Lyme disease prevalence.

Anaplasmosis prevalence is expected to be typical in most of the U.S., with exceptions for higher than usual prevalence in northwestern Minnesota and lower prevalence along the Wisconsin-Minnesota border and in the Boston-Cape Cod region. Ehrlichiosis is expected to have high prevalence in southern Virginia and North Carolina and typical prevalence in the rest of the U.S.

Related JAVMA content:

Heartworm infections, cases per practice on the rise (June 15, 2017)