It has long been thought by residents and even some veterinary health professionals within Jefferson and Park country Colorado that we do not have significant issues with mosquitos and ticks. Until early this year, I myself was someone who thought that protection from them was only needed during certain parts of the year and that we were shielded by both the weather and terrain. Due to this long-held sentiment within our community, many of our animals go long periods of time throughout the year without protection and are susceptible to both tick-borne illness as well as heartworm disease carried by mosquitos.
According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, a well-respected parasite research group that collects and tracks parasite data throughout the continental United States, Park county Colorado has a 2.5% positivity rate for all canines tested for heartworm disease in 2021, meaning 1 in 40 dogs who were tested this year was positive. In addition, Jefferson County has a 1% positivity rate, or 1 in 100 animals tested was positive. Given this data – we can prove without a doubt that mosquitos as well as the diseases they carry are here in our community. Due to this information and the recommendation of the American Heartworm Association, it is recommended that all dogs be on heartworm prevention year-round.
In addition to mosquitos and the significant threat, they pose to our animal companions, Ticks and tick-borne illness also pose a significant threat here in the foothills. The three most common ticks seen in Colorado are the Brown Dog Tick, The Rocky Mountain Wood Tick, and the American Dog Tick. The Brown Dog Tick is the main vector in Colorado for the tick-borne illness Ehrlichia Canis, whereas the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick and American Dog tick are known vectors (carriers) of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Tularemia. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, in 2020 – Park and Jefferson Counties had a 2.15% positivity rate for Ehrlichia Canis and so far into 2021 these percentages have not improved. The positivity rate for E. Canis in both counties is considered one of the highest in Colorado. Given this data – we can again prove without a doubt that ticks, as well as the diseases they carry, are also here in our community. Due to this information, it is recommended that all dogs and cats be on tick prevention year-round.