Innovative New Diagnostic Tool Protects Pets From Parasite Infestations

Johannesburg – Whether the focus is on humans or pets, holistic health begins with preventative medicine and diagnostics. 

For people who support the overall health of their dogs and cats and whose pets spend as much time indoors in the family home as they do in gardens and local parks, the ability to quickly detect common intestinal parasites is important.

It can mean the difference between pets suffering badly from a hookworm or roundworm infestation, for example, or treatments being administered quickly and effectively.

“Parasites are a threat throughout the year, making routine monitoring critical to pet health,” says Dr. Tarryn Dent, Business Unit Lead: Companion Animals at Zoetis South Africa (Zoetis), a global animal health company.

“The challenge for veterinarians and pet owners has traditionally been how long it takes to test for parasites, delaying treatment plans if roundworms, hookworms or a host of other parasites are detected. 

“Both hookworms and roundworms can be transmitted to humans, especially children, through contact with contaminated faeces, so keeping pets on a regular deworming schedule can effectively prevent the spread of these parasites.”  

However, although many pet owners choose to take intestinal parasite preventives, this strategy has its limitations as well. 

“Even when taking an intestinal parasite preventive, pets can still become infected due to poor compliance with preventives, becoming infected between doses of preventives and the potential preventive resistance amid emerging parasitic threats,” says Dent.

Instead, it’s important to know exactly what intestinal parasite infections dogs and cats may have. 

“The general recommendation for pet owners is that faecal testing for dogs and cats should take place at least four times in the first year of life, and at least twice a year in adults, depending on patient health and lifestyle factors,” says Dent. 

“Hookworm and roundworm infections can be extremely uncomfortable and are dangerous for pets as well. 

“For example, hookworms are small, blood-sucking worms that attach to the walls of the intestine. 

“They can cause anaemia, lethargy, weight loss, and poor growth in puppies and kittens. 

“In severe cases, hookworm infestations can even lead to death. 

“Roundworms can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss, and a pot-bellied appearance in infected animals. 

“The sooner an infestation is identified, the sooner it can be treated.”

In an ongoing bid to support holistic pet (and owner) health, Zoetis has introduced Vetscan Imagyst, a cutting-edge diagnostic tool for veterinarians.

Vetscan Imagyst uses image recognition technology, algorithms and cloud-based artificial intelligence to deliver on a report accurate testing results to clinics within minutes, even allowing pet owners to visualise specific parasites it identifies.

“Imagyst is a complete game changer for veterinarians and pet owners because the platform is able to detect internal parasite eggs, cysts and oocysts without faecal samples being sent to external laboratories,” says Dent. 

“Instead, the platform provides test results within nine minutes so pet owners don’t have to return for a second appointment and treatment can begin immediately.”

The ability to have accurate, fast results at the point of care empowers veterinarians to diagnose and treat in the same visit, increasing holistic health and eliminating follow-up appointments and callbacks, enhancing the overall pet owner experience.

“Screening for intestinal parasites is critical to help protect pets and their families from zoonotic risks,” says Dent.  

“Together with their pet’s veterinarian, Vetscan Imagyst allows owners to be proactive about their pet’s health, receive their pet’s test results during their visit and decide on the best course of treatment or preventive plan before leaving the clinic. 

“We are extremely excited to see the rollout of this important diagnostic tool throughout South Africa.”