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April 01, 2021

CAPC warns care delays may leave pets vulnerable to parasites

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A parasite control group worries delayed veterinary care early in 2020 could lead to lapses in parasite protection in pets.

The same organization also predicts widespread increases in heartworm disease in 2021.

Cat scratching itself

Leaders of the Companion Animal Parasite Council, a nonprofit foundation of animal and human health professionals, warned in an announcement that veterinarians’ appointment scheduling software may inadvertently create an echo of business trends from 2020, when clinics experienced a lull in business in the spring followed by an overwhelming crush of visits in the summer. CAPC leaders recommend that veterinarians consider sending clients reminders earlier and working with them to move up appointments.

Dr. Chris Carpenter, CAPC president and CEO, said in the announcement that every pet needs annual testing for parasites and timely preventives.

“Our concern is that the delayed veterinary visits in 2020 may cause difficulties in pets getting access to healthcare in 2021,” Dr. Carpenter said.

Dr. Rick Marrinson is a member of the CAPC board of directors and owner of a five-veterinarian practice in Longwood, Florida, which is near Orlando. He said in an interview that his practice’s revenue dropped about 10% in March and April 2020 in comparison with 2019, intestinal parasite screenings declined 14.7%, and heartworm tests declined 10%, yet the practice received a surge of business in the summer and fall from pet owners. He knows other veterinarians had similar experiences.

“Our practice management software—when you see that animal, it automatically creates reminders for that exact time next year,” he said.

Dr. Marrinson also warned that preliminary CAPC data, scheduled for publication in April, indicates heartworm will be unusually prevalent in 2021. The organization predicts hot spots in atypical areas, including New Mexico, Colorado, Northern California, northern Montana, and northern North Dakota.

“It’s just a crazy map coming out this year, and I just want veterinarians to be watching that, especially those people who always think they don’t have heartworms in their area,” Dr. Marrinson said. “We’re going to start seeing it everywhere.”