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Fleas, Ticks, and Mosquitoes in Oregon

 Fleas, Ticks, and Mosquitoes in Oregon (Specifically Bend, OR and Surrounding Areas)

When I arrived in Central Oregon (many) years ago, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes were things of the past.  I bragged to friends back in the eastern United States that we did not have mosquitos in Oregon and, therefore, we did not have heartworms.  When I left Alabama, we were treating 5 to 7 cases of adult heartworms per week and every dog that left our clinic was placed on heartworm preventative.  I also remember spending time every night picking ticks off of Muncie, my black lab that I had while in Veterinary School.  And fleas….. I do not even want to think about the flea infestations.  A number of chemicals that were poured, sprayed and aerosolized in my presence during that time could not have been good for anyone!  

Fast forward to 2015.  Mild winters and warm summers in Central Oregon have resulted in an increase prevalence of these blood sucking creatures. We are seeing more fleas and ticks so far this year than in previous years.  With an increase in a number of ticks, comes in an increase in the possibility of tick-borne diseases.  The following tick-borne diseases have been reported in Oregon: 

  • Lyme disease: transmitted by the Western Black Legged Tick (Deer Tick) is characterized by fever, joint pain, rash and joint swelling.
  • Ehrlichiosis: transmitted by the Western Black Legged Tick (Deer Tick) is characterized fever, malaise, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cough.
  • Babesiosis: transmitted by the Western Black Legged Tick (Deer Tick) is characterized by fever, chills, sweating, muscle aches and fatigue.

Mosquitos transmit Heartworm Disease  (HWD) which has not historically been an issue in Central Oregon.  As nights get warmer and the ambient temperature rises, we will start to see more cases of Heartworm disease.  Additionally, if you travel with your pet to warmer climates (Willamette Valley, California, etc) they are at higher risk to develop Heartworms.  To date, all of the cases of HWD in Central Oregon that I have seen, have a travel history that suggests exposure elsewhere.

Fleas are not only a nuisance but can occasionally transmit disease.  In 2012, Prineville had a  case of the Plague which is caused by a type of bacteria called Yersinia Pestis. This organism is transmitted by fleas to mammals.  Oregon has had 5 incidents of the Plague since 1995. The Plague is characterized by fever, malaise, and enlarged lymph nodes. Current recommendation to prevent the spread of this disease revolves around flea prevention in animals.

There are many new products on the market that work well to either repel or kill these critters.  We are currently carrying the following products:

  • Bravecto: This is an oral chew that lasts 3 months. It kills fleas within hours and ticks within a day.  It is safe for your dog but it is not approved for cats.  It is currently not labeled for use in treating lice but the early data is promising.
  • Parastar Plus: Topical flea and tick product that kills lice, as well.  It works for 30 days.  It is not safe for use in cats and caution should be used if using it on a dog that has close contact with cats.
  • Trifexis: A monthly tablet that kills fleas and prevents heartworm disease and intestinal parasites.  Trifexis is not labeled for lice and does not control ticks.
  • Interceptor is a monthly heartworm preventative.  It is also efficacious in treating intestinal parasites.

There are many over the counter topical products and collars that have been met with varying success.  Please feel free to call us if you have any questions about flea, tick, and heartworm products.  Here’s to a bug-free summer!