Prevalence of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) Infection up 48 Percent in Cats;
Lyme Disease up 21 Percent in Dogs
—April 15, 2014
—Banfield Pet Hospital®
, the world’s largest veterinary practice, released its State of Pet Health™ 2014 Report, opens in new tab
today, revealing a staggering 48 percent increase in the prevalence of feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection in cats and a 21 percent increase in the prevalence of infection with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease in dogs. The report, compiled by Banfield’s internal research team, Banfield Applied Research and Knowledge (BARK), analyzed data collected in 2013 from nearly 2.3 million dogs and 470,000 cats cared for in Banfield’s more than 850 hospitals in 43 states. The State of Pet Health™ 2014 Report, opens in new tab
focuses on common infectious diseases affecting dogs and cats in the United States, as well as the prevalence and geographic trends of such diseases, including Lyme disease, parvovirus, Giardia
and kennel cough for dogs; and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection, feline leukemia virus (FeLV), upper respiratory infection and ear mites for cats.
The report shows in 2013, approximately 1 of every 300 cats seen in Banfield hospitals was found to be infected with FIV, with the highest prevalence of FIV infection in Oklahoma, Iowa and Arkansas. Also in 2013, approximately 1 in every 130 dogs was infected with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. The report reinforced that the Northeastern states are a hot spot for Lyme disease, with the highest prevalence of infection in New Hampshire where 1 in every 15 dogs seen was infected, followed by Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In contrast, only 1 in 1,000 dogs or less was infected in the Pacific Northwest. Furthermore, the infection was twice as common in large breed dogs as in toy/small breed dogs.
“The 2014 report highlights the increase in infectious disease observed at Banfield hospitals nationwide,” said Jeffrey Klausner, DVM, MS, DACVIM, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Banfield Pet Hospital. “It is our responsibility—as a practice and as a dedicated group of professionals who love pets—to provide the best possible preventive care, which leads to early disease diagnosis and management. This care creates a partnership between pet owners and their veterinarian to continuously identify changes in a pet’s overall health and behavior. At Banfield, we believe in creating a better world for pets—and together, we hope to protect pets from preventable diseases, help detect and manage emerging diseases and work to ensure all pets are as healthy as possible for as long as possible.”
FIV ON THE RISE; MORE COMMON IN MALE CATS
FIV infection is typically diagnosed by a veterinarian using a blood test. Banfield’s research shows male cats are three times as likely to be infected with FIV as female cats. Like HIV, FIV is a slow-acting virus spread through close contact with infected individuals. The virus is commonly transmitted during mating, through bite wounds associated with cat fights or from an infected mother to her kittens. FIV infection leads to permanent and progressive infection in affected cats, eventually attacking the immune system and increasing the cat’s risk for other serious infections.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for FIV. A vaccine is available; however, its ability to prevent FIV infection is not fully understood and major vaccine advisory groups such as the American Association of Feline Practitioners either do not recommend it or do not consider it one of the regular vaccines that all cats should receive. Thus, the best way for pet owners to avoid exposing their cat to FIV is to keep them indoors and away from potentially FIV-infected cats.
LYME DISEASE THREATENS PETS AND PET OWNERS
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates approximately 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, registering the highest prevalence throughout the Northeastern and upper Midwestern states. Banfield observed a similar geographic trend in pets, determining pets living in the Northeastern states have the highest risk of contracting Lyme disease. The Lyme disease infection is caused by a type of bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi
), and spread through the bite of an infected deer tick. In fact, since 2009 there has been a 21 percent increase in the prevalence of infection with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease in dogs, corresponding to a similar increase in tick infestation over the same period.
Transmission occurs when the tick attaches and feeds on an animal or person’s blood over the course of 24 hours, allowing the bacteria to enter the bloodstream. While the bacteria cannot be transmitted directly from pet to owner, pets with access to the outdoors can bring an infected tick into the home or yard, thereby increasing the chance of humans coming into contact with an infected tick. Owners can protect their dogs from Lyme disease by regularly checking a pet for ticks and using flea/tick collars and preventive medications, such as topical flea/tick products.
For dogs, the most common sign of Lyme disease is recurrent lameness caused by inflammation of the joints, but may also include fever, decrease in activity level and appetite and in rare cases, acute kidney disease. Exposure to the Borrelia
bacteria can be detected by a veterinarian using a blood test; however, many dogs that test positive may never develop clinical signs of disease.
INFECTIOUS DISEASE TRENDS NATIONWIDE
The following list illustrates states with the highest risk and prevalence of infection affecting cats and dogs throughout the U.S.