In April 2010, Australian canine vector borne disease (CVBD) specialists joined a conference in New York to discuss the need for dog owners to be vigilant in their control of parasites, to ensure that both pets and the people they live with are kept disease-free.

Professor Peter Irwin, from Murdoch University’s School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, presented at the 5th World CVBD Forum in New York, explaining that changes in climate and increasing travel are leading to wider
distribution of parasites that were once confined to small areas of the world.

Prof Irwin also believes that there is not enough emphasis placed on control.“Many people think these parasites are just an unpleasant but harmless nuisance, but far from it,” he says.

“The diseases they spread pose a real threat to the health of dogs and humans.” For example, ticks can transmit Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis, mosquitoes can spread heartworm, and sand flies can carry Leishmaniasis.

 

What can dog owners do to reduce the risk of infection to themselves and their dogs?

Prof Irwin recommends the use of repellent insecticides and says education is key. “Veterinarians should be educated about owner risks when these infections are diagnosed in dogs, and should take an active role in explaining risks to clients,” Prof Irwin explains.