The tick and flea season 2013 unfortunately promises to be a very busy and active one. Pets and their humans have to take cover and be aware to protect from disease carried by ticks and other parasites. Veterinarian Dick Rogen of Horizon Pet Care comments, “It started early. They started coming in the first part of March because of that warm weather and they’re sticking around and we’re seeing more of them than we have in a lot of years.”
If you have indoor cats they’re not immune from being infected either! Fleas can be brought home by you or other pets without realizing it, and infect your cat(s). The eggs and larva stay dormant until conditions are perfect to hatch. Bayer’s Advantage® II kills fleas within 12 hours of application, and kills reinfecting fleas within 2 hours.
Dr. Mike Paul, the Executive Director of the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the control and prevention of parasites in companion animals and the potential spread of these parasites to humans, answered some pertinent questions.
What are the most common parasites found on pets, and why are they of such concern?
First, you should know that parasite infestation and disease transmission from pets to humans – called “zoonotic” transmission – are almost completely preventable. The most common concerns include fleas and ticks – external parasites that not only cause our pets discomfort, but also pose some risk of transmitting disease to humans. Another parasite most pet parents are familiar with is heartworms. Though not of real significance in humans, left untreated, the disease is generally fatal in dogs and potentially so in cats. This deadly parasite can be totally prevented by using one of a variety of products available from veterinarians.
But most pet parents are not aware of many other parasites, which can be dangerous to pets and humans. These include tapeworm, roundworm, hookworms, whipworms and giardia.
At the CAPC, a nonprofit organization of vets and leading human and animal health experts, we educate vets and pet parents about the prevalence, prevention and treatment of external and internal parasites, as well as the potential of disease transmission from animals to humans.
Can fleas and ticks really transmit diseases to my family?
Yes. Fleas can carry and transmit several potential illnesses to humans and also serve as an intermediate host for tapeworms, which can infect both pets and humans. Ticks can transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and others.
How can I reduce the risk of parasites infecting my family?
First and foremost, I recommend that you talk to your veterinarian about both internal and external parasite control. In addition to administering the necessary preventive treatment, there also are several things you can do to protect your family and pets.
Disposing of pet feces on a regular basis can help remove potentially infective worm eggs before they become distributed in the environment, where they can be picked up or ingested by pets or humans. Pay extra attention to areas both your pet and your children use regularly, such as sandboxes and other areas of the yard. You may need to restrict either your pet or your children from certain areas to avoid contamination or prevent contact with contaminated soil. Keep the grass cut short in yards, and if you have to overgrown areas wear long clothing to prevent ticks from accessing your skin. After spending time outside in the yard, woods, playing area and/or beach, make sure you check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks!
Always encourage everyone in the family – children in particular – to practice good personal hygiene and prevent exposure to places that may be contaminated.
For more information on parasites visit: www.petsandparasites.org.