Road Show Educates Owners on Pets and Parasites

Companion Animal Parasite Council’s educational tour makes stop in Sacramento.

By | Posted: July 9, 2009, 5 a.m. EDT

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The Companion Animal Parasite Council Education Road Show made a stop in Sacramento on July 7 in its traveling effort to educate pet owners and families about zoonotic diseases and how to prevent them.

The West Coast tour began June 27 in Denver and has since visited San Diego, Long Beach, Calif., and San Francisco. The next stop is Eugene, Ore., on July 9. The tour ends July 11 in Seattle, where the American Veterinary Medical Association conference will take place.

“[The road show] has been really fun,” said Michael Paul, DVM, executive director of the CAPC. “It’s even better than last year.”

Attendee turnout has been great and the local television news coverage overall has increased significantly this year, he said.

To up its efforts, the CAPC this year partnered with more local nonprofit animal welfare groups to help facilitate pet adoptions at the various tour stops. They also incorporated a computerized survey to get a better understanding of what pet owners really think about parasite prevention.

It turns out that about 50 percent to 60 percent of the pet owners Paul has spoken to over the course of the tour are already using some kind of preventive. However, he said pet owners are not administering preventives year-round, which is a problem.

“There are parasites and zoonotic disease, sometimes a higher-than-expected incidence, in every Western city on our Road Show schedule,” Paul said. “Parasites can be found in all 50 states, every day of the year, regardless of the weather.”

Heartworm and other common parasitic diseases were virtually non-existent in the West 50 years ago, according to the CAPC. However, the changing landscape and influx of people from different parts of the country help these diseases spread more rapidly. Many people relocating to the West take dogs and cats that have parasites, the CAPC said.

The CAPC recommends that pet owners use preventive medicine year-round to control internal and external parasites for the life of their dog or cat, no matter where they live.

“If you prevent parasitic infections in companion animals, you greatly reduce the chances of zoonotic transmission to people,” Paul said.

A continuing education event for veterinarians and veterinary technicians also took place in Sacramento that evening. About 80 attendees were expected. The professional program was taught by Dwight Bowman, Ph.D., a professor of parasitology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. The other tour cities have had and will have similar programs.

Although dates and locations haven’t been set for the 2010 tour, Paul said he expects it will take place somewhere in the southeast.

For road show details, visit PetsandParasites.org

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