In 2017, the Smithsonian reported that the world’s parasites were going extinct.
Hmmm, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? As long as they take the ones we humans are most familiar with – fleas, ticks, mosquitoes – then I’m good. They’re the ones all of us pet owners know well and love to hate.
Not only are they a nuisance, they can be carriers of all sorts of icky stuff. Just take a quick stroll through this parasite hall of fame:
- Fleas: although not such an issue anymore, fleas were responsible for the bubonic plague, which killed an estimated 25 million people in 1665 and 1666. They can also cause flea-borne typhus, pass on cat scratch disease, and will also spread tapeworm to both humans and animals if an infected flea is swallowed. And, finally, they are awful for pets, causing itching, discomfort, and dermatitis. We didn’t even talk about what it’s like when your furniture and carpets get infested. And they will if they’re on your pet because only about five percent of fleas are on your pet. The rest are – you guessed it – making a comfy little home in your rugs.
- Ticks: Gosh, there are too many to list here but they can be acute and chronic. Some will even cause death if not caught early or if the infection is in someone who is immuno-compromised. You’re likely most familiar with Lyme disease but it is less common here than another one, which is called Erlichiosis. Actual human cases have been diagnosed in the Kansas City area and, folks, it’s serious.
- Mosquitoes: Heartworm is the biggie around here. We treat cases almost every day at the clinic. Without treatment, heartworm is always fatal. Mosquitoes can also transmit West Nile and there is research now suggesting they can also pass heartworm on. For humans, mosquitoes are responsible for the Zika virus and the biggie, malaria, which kills an estimated 1 – 3 million people per year.
So, with all that said, we say goodbye and good riddance.
But wait …
Not so fast, friend. According to the Smithsonian, the extinction of parasites would have dire consequences for us and our pets. They play an important role in regulating populations and the balance of our ecosystem. As the Smithsonian article states: A mass die off could spell ecological disaster.
Okay, so maybe we don’t want to do away with parasites altogether (we’re still fans of the idea though). Our recommendation is to use prevention year ‘round, even in cold months. Because all it takes is a couple of warm days and the awful things are active again.
This month is Fight the Bite at PRCKC. We do this every year to help raise awareness of prevention and the consequences of not keeping parasites in check. Most often, we see fleas on pets. But we also see heartworm regularly and, as mentioned before, without treatment, heartworm is always fatal. And treatment is costly and takes a long time.
So, as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention …
During Fight the Bite, we’re offering six months of prevention for the price of 3 with certain packages. Learn more now.