An increasing number of people around the world share their lives and homes with pets. The emotional and physical benefits of having a pet are huge – they are our best friend, a member of the family, a furry shoulder to cry on. This means that we are more interested than ever to properly protect our pet’s health and well-being against threats such as parasites. Most importantly, this will also help to minimize the risk of transmission of infectious diseases.

We help to protect the unique relationship between humans and their loved pets. As a world leader in parasitology, we focus primarily on developing and promoting medicines that prevent pets of blood-feeding parasites such as ticks, fleas, sand flies or mosquitoes. These parasites not only cause serious health problems such as allergic reactions, but also transmit dangerous diseases like Leishmaniosis, Borrelioses or Anaplasmosis to cats and dogs. Due to their mechanism of action, our medicines are able to reduce these risks and provide cats and dogs with the best possible protection.

 

What are CVBD?

 

We engage and educate veterinarians and scientists around the world through our global Companion Vector Borne Disease (CVBD) Symposium, and work with them to fight the growing international public health threat that CVBDs pose.

This work benefits more than just the animals. There are also vector-borne pathogens that are zoonotic, where infected insects spread diseases by biting both people and animals. This is why prevention is the key to protecting the health and well-being of pets and their families and contributing that nothing prevents them from enjoying the happy moments of life together.

 

Brown dog tick
Brown dog tick
Rocky Mountain wood tick
Rocky Mountain wood tick
Cat flea
Cat flea
Cat flea
Cat flea
Sandfly
Sandfly
Mosquito
Mosquito

Companion Vector-Borne Diseases

What is it? How do dogs get infected?

Anaplasmosis is a tickborne disease caused by the infectious bacterial organisms Anaplasma phagocytophilum or Anaplasma platys. Depending on their location around the world, up to one-third of dogs carry antibodies against Anaplasma bacteria in their blood, meaning they’ve been infected in the past. The most relevant Anaplasma bacteria for pets, A. phagocytophilum and A. platys, are transmitted by different tick species. As the geographical distribution of these tick species expands, clinical cases of anaplasmosis are nowadays found in regions, where you couldn't find the disease in the past. Unfortunately, dogs don’t develop protective immunity against this bacterium, so they can get reinfected even if they already carry antibodies.

According to the distribution of its tick vector Anaplasma platys is more frequently found in warmer regions than A. phagocytophilum. A. platys has been detected in tropical and warm regions including the Mediterranean area, the Middle East, and some regions of South America, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Signs and Symptoms?

After an incubation period of 7 to 14 days, infected dogs can develop symptoms like fever, anorexia, depression or lethargy, muscle pain, confusion, nausea, and even immune-mediated polyarthritis (IMPA). But often the animals don’t show symptoms – the disease stays “silent.”

In general, anaplasmosis appears to be largely a self-limiting infection in dogs. It has similar but milder symptoms than another vector-borne disease, ehrlichiosis. In rare cases, untreated anaplasmosis leads to an animal’s death.

Anaplasma phagocytophilum can also infect  humans, and causes human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), with symptoms like fever, severe headache and muscle aches. As with animals, humans can acqire the infection through a bite from an infected tick.

Solutions

Ectoparasiticides (e.g. in form of medicinal collars) for tick-control are crucial parts of preventing this illness.as the best protection is prevention. hOptimally this means using tick repellents to protect your pet from getting tick bites. Pet owners need to be informed about endemic regions and seasonal variations in ticks.    

4 facts about Anaplasmosis

Source – Anaplasma bacteria transmitted by ticks
Spread – worldwide in tick-endemic regions
Some of the symptoms – unspecific, such as fever, anorexia, lethargy
Prevention – tick-control via approved preventative products that repel and kill (e.g. medicinal collars), and periodical, regular veterinary examinations

What is it? How do pets get infected?

This illness is caused by pathogens called Babesia, parasites that infect and destroy red blood cells.

Babesia are transmitted by the bites from something almost microscopic: ticks. Some of these ticks, in their early stages, may measure as little as two millimeters. This means the vector may be only a little larger than a grain of salt.

Canine Babesiosis can be found in many continents throughout the world where it is caused by different types of these blood parasites, which also vary in the degree of disease they cause.

Signs and Symptoms?

If a dog develops coffee-colored urine, this may be a sign of a serious case of canine babesiosis. So why might an infected dog’s urine become coffee-colored? Generally, once the pathogen enters its dog host’s bloodstream through the tick bite, it attaches to a red blood cell and invades it. Inside the cell, the parasite multipliesuntil the blood cell ruptures, and multiple new parasites are released into the dog’s bloodstream, where they infect more blood cells. It’s the rupture of red blood cells that causes the dog’s urine to becomes deep brown.

Other Symptomsof Babesiosi include fever, reduced appetite and weight loss as well as anemia and sometimes jaundice. If untreated, kidney damage or anemia may become life threatening. And even though the disease can be treated, treatment for canine babesiosis doesn’t always clear the pathogen. An infected animal can remain a carrier of the Babesia pathogen.

Solutions

The good news is that this illness is preventable. Dogs should be treated with products that prevent tick bites. And attentive pet owners should always check for signs of ticks or tick bites – with this close attention, pets remain both safe and happy.

4 facts about Canine Babesiosis

Source – Babesia spp. transmitted by infected ticks
Spread – more common in Southern and Eastern Europe; now found across Europe, parts of Africa, North America and Asia
Some of the symptoms – dark urine, fever, loss of weight, anemia
Prevention – tick repellent, in the form of collars or topical products, should be the very first choice; in addition, pet parents and vetenarians can monitor for signs of tick bites

What is it? How do pets get infected?

Bartonella are bacteria that live primarily inside the lining of the blood vessels. They can infect humans, mammals and a wide range of animals. The disease that results is called bartonellosis.

Studies have found Bartonella bacteria in the blood of up to one-third of otherwise healthy cats. The most common of this type of bacteria is B. henselae, which is responsible for feline bartonellosis and cat scratch disease (CSD) in humans around the world.

The vectors of this disease are fleas. B.henselae replicates in the flea’s gut, and afterwards appears in large quantities in the flea’s feces where it can survive and remain infectious for up to nine days. Cats' grooming behaviors, such as licking their fur and scratching themselves, lead to the presence of this pathogen on their claws and in their oral cavity. Cats’ scratches and bites may then transmit the disease to other cats or humans.

Signs and Symptoms?

A few days after infection with B.henselae, cats may display unspecific signs of illness such as fever but otherwise seem healthy. In humans, immunocompetent patients usually get the classical and self-limiting form of CSD with the typical formation of small pimples or bumps at the infection site. However, in immunocompromised people the course of disease is much more complicated. These patients often develop serious clinical signs, that can affect various organs including heart, brain and eyes.

There are multiple Bartonella species, overall, many of which little is currently known about. Bartonella-based illnesses can be extremely difficult to diagnose because the pathogen can’t be cultured easily. Blood testing is one of the methods that can work, but overall, a definite diagnosis remains challenging.

Solutions

Treatment of feline bartonellosis is only recommended for cats that show clinical symptoms or live with humans with impaired immune systems. Treatment is quite challenging for cats and their owners as it requires the administration of antibiotics for several weeks (more than six weeks). On top, in most cases treatment reduces the number of Bartonella bacteria in the blood but does not eliminate the infection from the body.

However, CSD can be prevented by protecting cats against fleas. To begin, a product should be used that is approved for use in cats that kills fleas and prevent flea infestations. Regular veterinary check-ups will also keep an eye out for signs of flea infestation.

4 facts about Bartonellosis (cat scratch disease)

Source – feces of infected fleas that carry the Bartonella pathogens. Cats have flea feces on their claws and Bartonella bacteria are transmitted to humans and other cats by scratches
Spread – worldwide
Some of the symptomsin cats: there may be no visible symptoms or unspecific illness; in people scratched by an infected cat: redness, swelling by the scratch; severe disease in immunocompromised people.
Prevention for cats: products that kill fleas and prevent flea infestations; periodical, regular veterinary examinations. For people: wash any cat scratches with soap and water immediately. Monitor scratches for unusual redness or swelling, and one’s overall health.

What is it? How do pets get infected?

Ehrlichiosis is caused by several bacterial species of the genus Ehrlichia. These bacteria cause the Ehrlichiosis infection, which is considered zoonotic, because the main reservoirs for the disease are animals.

Ehrlichia can be a dog’s unwanted holiday souvenir: this bacteria species may be carried by ticks in countries with primarily warmer climates. When an infected tick bites a dog, this may result in a disease known as ehrlichiosis. Named after German physician and scientist Paul Ehrlich, the first known case of the disease was reported in 1935 in a dog in Algeria. Since then, it was detected in an increasing number of places around the world.

Today, canine monocytic ehrlichiosis (CME) due to the bacterium Ehrlichia canis is a widespread disease in the USA, Mediterranean Europe and Africa. It has expanded its range with the distribution of its known main vector, the Brown Dog tick. Other species, such as Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii, have had a minor impact. They have been diagnosed in dogs within the USA. However, recently cases have been reported in Africa and Korea. Although the symptoms of the disease will vary depending upon the infecting Ehrlichia species, an acute reduction in cellular blood elements is typically seen with all of them.

Signs and Symptoms?

CME caused by E. canis is characterized by three clinical phases: acute, subclinical and chronic. First, in the acute phase, which lasts around 2-4 weeks, a dog shows unspecific symptoms like fever, lethargy or weight loss. The animal may also experience a severe reduction of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia), which can lead to an increased tendency to bleed. After this, the disease can seem ‘silent,’ and the dog appears clinically normal. The second, subclinical phase of this disease can last for weeks or months and dogs in this stage present no clinical signs. If the dog is not able to eliminate the infection, it may become an asymptomatic reservoir of the Ehrlichia pathogens: With each new tick bite, the pathogen enters the tick, and the tick can transmit the bacteria to the next dog.

Some but not all infected dogs may advance to a chronic phase. In the chronic phase the clinical signs are more severe. This stage of the disease can be fatal.

Solutions

Pet owners should think prevention as the primary approach. There is no vaccination available, so the only method of protection is tick control. Tick bites can be prevented via products such as medicinal collars. Pet owners should also inspect their pets for ticks and tick bites, as well as avoid endemic areas if possible. If a pet does become infected with Ehrlichia but receives an early diagnosis, this disease can often be cured after several weeks of carefully administered antibiotic therapy. The best results can be achieved if treatment is given during the acute phase.

4 facts about Ehrlichiosis

Source – ticks infected with Ehrlichia canis
Spread – Europe, USA, Africa and elsewhere where the specific tick vectors are found
Some of the symptoms – in acute phase unspecific symptoms such as fever, anorexia and weight loss; in chronic phase similar symptoms but more severe, predisposition for bleeding
Prevention – veterinarian-recommended tick prevention products

What is it? How do pets get infected?

The causative agent for tick-borne borreliosis, which is called Lyme disease in the US, are bacteria of the Borrelia burgdorferi complex. The complex comprises a number of different species and genotypes of Borrelia that can infect mammals and also birds; but not all of them cause disease. Borrelia are transmitted by Ixodes ticks, whereby the individual species vary in different regions of the world.

Tick-borne borreliosis is found in more than 80 countries worldwide, including remote regions like the Subantarctic and it affects both people and animals. Borreliosis is most common in the Northern hemisphere, with somewhere between 3 to 10 percent of dogs actively infected, but this rate can rise to nearly 75 percent of unprotected dogs in endemic areas, such as the northeastern United States. Currently there are few cases reported in the Southern hemisphere, but the number of infections is rising worldwide. For example, in the UK, the reported rate of animal borreliosis has increased 560 percent since 2009. In Northern Europe, overall, borrelia-infected ticks are now common even in urban areas.

Symptoms?

Regardless of species, once this pathogen reaches its host – whether dog, bird, horse or human – it takes anywhere from two weeks to five months before the first symptoms occur, such as fatigue, fever and lethargy. While the majority of dogs don’t develop clinical signs, in others this illness can lead to polyarthritis or kidney disease. It can be difficult to determine if the unspecific clinical signs are due to a borreliosis disease or a different cause.

Standard blood tests only prove the presence of antibodies. There are some lab tests that can confirm the presence of viable Borrelia bacteria, such as DNA-based testing (PCR testing) of skin and joint fluid. Still, many active cases go undetected.

Solutions

This disease can be avoided via prevention. Veterinary professionals can advise as to the best ectoparasiticides, such as medicinal collars or other products. It's important that the product has repellent activity, which means that the product causes a tick to leave the animal and protects the dog from getting bitten by a tick.

The use of borreliosis vaccines for dogs is controversial among medical professionals. Among the concerns is that the available vaccines contain only some species of the Borrelia complex and it is still not known which species can actually cause clinical disease. In addition, dogs should not be vaccinated if they carry antibodies against Borrelia, which is the case for many healthy dogs, that have been exposed to Borrelia but never developed an active infection. Whatever the case may be, a vaccination does never replace diligent parasite prevention with products that have a repellent component and prevent dogs from being bitten by ticks.

Some pet parents may think that examining their pets is enough protection; generally speaking, pets – and people – should always be carefully checked after spending time outdoors. But if this disease is diagnosed in dogs, even a minimum four-weeks of antibiotic treatment may not alleviate chronic, lingering pain. That’s why pet parents should, and can, take preventive action.

4 facts about Borreliosis

Source – ticks carrying the Borreliac bacteria
Spread – worldwide; more common in the Northern Hemisphere
Some of the symptoms – most infected dogs don't develop clinical signs. In rare cases fever, lameness (polyarthritis) and kidney disease
Prevention – approved products that repel and kill ticks

What is it? How do pets get infected?

Heartworm disease or dirofilariasis is a serious and potentially fatal disease. It is caused by a blood-borne parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis.

Heartworm disease is caused by a special type of a parasitic nematode (or worm) that mainly occurs in temperate to tropical to subtropical regions such as the US, South America, Japan, Australia and Mediterranean countries. In the US, an estimated one million dogs are infected.

Heartworms are travelers: They move between host dogs and mosquitoes. Within dogs, the heartworm lengthens from 0.3 millimeters long at birth to 18 centimeters long as a male, and up to 30 centimeters long as a female. And while they grow inside a dog, adult worms journey from smaller to bigger blood vessels for up to seven years.

Wherever it appears, this worm itself spreads when the female heartworm  releases its offspring (microfilariae) into its host’s bloodstream. When the host – usually a dog – gets bitten by a mosquito, the insect gets infected with heartworm larvae. Within this mosquito vector, the heartworm microfilariae mature into infective larvae within 14 days. Once this infected mosquito bites another dog, the parasite migrates into its next host. Here, it develops to its adult stage, which takes about six months.

In comparison to dogs, humans only rarely have had heartworm disease; in the few cases when people have been infected, the source would be an infected mosquito.

Signs and Symptoms?

After a dog becomes infected, the female heartworm and its offspring can’t be detected for a number of months. About four months after initial infection, as the parasites mature, infected dogs suffer from weakness and cough. If the animal is untreated, its heart, lungs and arteries may be permanently damaged, and ultimately the animal may die.
    
Solutions

Prevention should be a pet parent’s goal to keep this illness away. While antigen tests are the most sensitive testing method, with an accuracy of almost 100 percent, once this illness is confirmed, heartworm disease therapy is expensive and lengthy. Adult worms may be extracted from the large blood vessels surgically, or they are stopped with chemotherapeutic medicine. But both methods come with considerable risks for a dog’s health.

These scenarios, fortunately, can be easily avoided with a regular, monthly usage of a preventative product. Even puppies can receive protection against early stage infective larvae – thus preventing the onset of this disease.

4 facts about Dirofilaria immitis (Heartworm Disease)

Source – Dirofilaria immitis transmitted by infected mosquitos
Spread – globally in regions with tropical and subtropical climates
Some of the symptoms – mild cough, swollen abdomen, lethargy
Prevention – veterinarian-approved preventative products; periodical, regular veterinary examinations