WIESBADEN, Germany, April 21 /PRNewswire/ --

- Parasites on their way north: Increasing risks for man and dog

Has climate change already altered the geographical spread of blood-sucking parasites and therefore the risk of parasite-transmitted diseases? A question relevant for humans and -- even more so -- their domestic animals. Ticks, for example, pose a special threat to dogs. Dogs naturally spend a lot of time in zones of highest risk: grassland and forests. The tiny arachnids can transmit infectious diseases such as Lyme borreliosis. Dogs in warmer regions, such as the Mediterranean area, which stay outside at night are additionally exposed to sand flies looking for a blood meal -- potential transmitters of leishmaniosis.

New evidence for a changing parasitic landscape and an increasing risk of infection comes from the 3rd International CVBD Symposium, supported by Bayer HealthCare, Animal Health Division. The term CVBD (canine vector-borne diseases) refers to parasite-transmitted infectious diseases in dogs. Many of them may affect humans as well. Leading experts in natural sciences, veterinary and human medicine from Europe, North America and Asia met for two days in Wiesbaden, Germany, to discuss current scientific data and future developments in the field of these diseases.

Sand flies found as far north as the Midwest of Germany in summer 2007, and the first proof of winter-active sand flies on the island Corsica in February 2008 -- for Dr. Torsten Naucke, a German parasitologist working for the organization "Parasitus Ex", these are two indicators for an increasing distribution of sand flies and their prolonged seasonal activity due to climate change. However, it has still to be proven that this particular sand fly species is responsible for eleven cases of (human/canine/feline/equine) leishmaniosis in Germany since 1991 which cannot be attributed to travel activity.

Leishmaniosis is a major disease in more than 70 countries in the world (recently even found in the US). The number of infected dogs in Italy, Spain, France and Portugal, amounts to about 2.5 million.

In direct comparison of two national surveys based on information from veterinary clinics, Dr. Patrick Bourdeau from the Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Nantes, France, saw a sustantial expansion of leishmaniosis in his country. The number of areas where clinics reported more than 50 cases a year doubled from 1986 to 2004. Asked about two relevant tick-borne diseases of the dog in 2006/2007, 27% of the veterinarians considered an increase of ehrlichiosis in their practice, 36% of Lyme borreliosis.

During their 2-day-session in Wiesbaden, the CVBD World Forum members discussed many other highly pertinent topics on a variety of pathogens and vectors. All topics will find their way into http://www.cvbd.org, the CVBD World Forum's new website dedicated to providing the veterinary practitioner with cutting-edge and clinically relevant scientific information on CVBD.

The group sees a high need to continue and expand research on the global distribution of blood-sucking parasites and its evolution as well as on the details of parasite-host-interaction and ways to predict and prevent risks for humans and animals. Dr. Jean-Pierre Dedet, University of Montpellier, France: "In absence of efficient control programs for arthropod vectors, using repellents remains the best prophylactic measure for humans and dogs against infectious diseases."

About the CVBD World Forum

The CVBD World Forum is a working group of leading experts in natural sciences, veterinary and human medicine from Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. It was founded during the 1st International CVBD Symposium in April 2006 in Billesley, UK, as a consequence of the increasing global threats through canine vector-borne diseases (CVBD). The main goal of the CVBD World Forum is to exchange knowledge and findings about ectoparasite-pathogen-host interaction as well as the characterisation and assessment of pathogens' and vectors' distribution in order to increase awareness for the specific regional risks of CVBD and to foster preventative measures. This work is supported by Bayer HealthCare, Animal Health Division.

About Bayer HealthCare

Bayer HealthCare, a subsidiary of Bayer AG, is one of the world's leading innovative companies in the health care and medical products industry. The company combines the activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Diabetes Care, and Pharmaceuticals divisions. The company's pharmaceuticals business operates under the name Bayer Schering Pharma AG. Bayer HealthCare's aim is to discover, develop, manufacture and market products that will improve human and animal health worldwide.

With sales of EUR 956 million (2007), the Animal Health Division is one of the world's leading manufacturers of veterinary drugs. The division produces and markets approximately 100 different veterinary drugs and care products for livstock and companion animals.

We are only one click away -- our press service online: http://www.viva.vita.bayerhealthcare.com

For further information, see also http://www.cvbd.org.

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in our annual and interim reports to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and in our reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (including our Form 20-F). The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to confirm them to future events or developments.

Web site: http://www.viva.vita.bayerhealthcare.com http://www.cvbd.org

Kerstin Nacken of Bayer HealthCare, +49-(0)-2173-38-4019, kerstin.nacken@bayerhealthcare.com