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Pet owners beware, report shows increase in infectious diseases in dog and cats

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On Tuesday, Banfield Pet Hospital® released its State of Pet Health™ 2014 Report. Data for the report was collected from nearly 2.3 million dogs and 470,000 cats treated in 2013 by Banfield's more than 850 hospitals.

The report shows a staggering 48 percent increase in feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection in cats. Also high was the 21 percent increase in infections with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease in dogs.

In 2013, approximately 1 of every 300 cats seen at Banfield hospitals across the country was found to be infected with FIV. States reporting the highest number of FIV infections were Oklahoma, Iowa, Arkansas, South Carolina and Indiana. Research shows male cats are three times as likely to be infected with FIV as female cats. Spread during mating, through bite wounds, or from an infected mother to her kittens, an FIV infection eventually attacks the immune system and increases risk for other serious infections. While a vaccine is available, there is no cure for FIV according to Banfield.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, with most cases occurring in the Northeastern and upper Midwestern states. Banfield showed similar findings with regards to pets.

Approximately 1 in every 130 dogs seen by Banfield in 2013 was infected with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. The state with the highest number of dogs carrying the bacterium was New Hampshire, where 1 in every 15 dogs seen was infected. Other states with a high number of infections include Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The infection was twice as common in large breed dogs as in small breed dogs.

Lyme disease in dogs is indicated by recurrent lameness caused by inflammation of the joints. Other signs include fever, decreased activity level and appetite, and in rare cases, acute kidney disease. The bacteria cannot be transmitted directly from pet to owner, however people can get ill after coming into contact with an infected tick carried into the home by a pet. Protect dogs from Lyme disease by checking for ticks and using flea/tick collars and preventive medications.

Also notable are the states which showed the highest risk of feline leukemia virus in cats: Idaho, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Arizona and Kansas.

For dogs, the report showed the states with the highest risk of canine parvovirus were New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

Banfield also tracks diseases which are either rare, emerging diseases or those which cause signs of illness that are not specific to any one disease.

As Banfield hospitals are located in 43 states, data for the study did not include the seven states without the hospital, namely Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Find out more on the Banfield Pet Hospital Facebook page and at stateofpethealth.com.

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