CAPC: Disease risks far outweigh adverse flea product concerns

CAPC: Disease risks far outweigh adverse flea product concerns

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May 13, 2009
By dvm360.com staff
Bel Air, Md. -- The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) issued a statement citing low safety risks for topical spot-on flea and tick products. The action follows a recent advisory from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cautioning consumers about an increase in adverse events (up to 40,000).

Mike Paul, DVM, executive director of CAPC, says in a written statement, "While these (adverse-reaction) figures are concerning, they must be interpreted in light of information that is absent from the report. An adverse event that is reported may be anything from disappointing results, unacceptable odors or temporary changes to the hair coat, to more significant events such as gastrointestinal upsets, respiratory signs like coughing or sneezing or skin irritations at the point of application. On rare occasions, serious and life-threatening symptoms and even death may occur."

Paul chides the report for not clarifying the nature or frequency of adverse events.

"The range of products used is amazingly broad," Paul adds. "Not only are these products specifically labeled for indication by species, they are also clearly labeled for frequency of application and dosage. There is no reference in the EPA report to adherence to these labeled restrictions."

The source of these products and handling directions is another area of concern, CAPC says.

Some are available over-the-counter, and some are illegally imported or not appropriately manufactured, Paul says. "Products dispensed by veterinarians with a client/patient relationship are the most completely supervised with regard to species application, dose and frequency of application, but even these products can be mishandled," he adds.

"It is important to consider this number in light of the total doses administered from veterinary sources, Internet sources and retail sources, a figure that is simply not available," Paul explains.

"We do have information on veterinary-dispensed products, and even in light of that number the percentage of adverse events is extremely low, and the percentage of major adverse events is miniscule. The incidence of adverse events should always be of concern, but must be interpreted in light of the above realities."

"The improved control of fleas and ticks has done much to improve the comfort level and quality of life of dogs and cats. Further, particularly in view of increased geographic ranges of external parasites and the diseases they carry, flea and tick control have significant implications in protecting human health. Ectoparasites and their control is a genuine zoonotic concern with very real public health implications."

As first reported in DVM Newsmagazine, flea and tick product makers were slated to meet with EPA officials in mid-May.