Monday, March 1, 2010

Facts about Heartworm in the United States

Copyright 2006 Paul Nelson * Canine heartworm infection occurs all across the United States. Heartworm infection has been found in pet and wild dogs in all 50 states, each of which have there own areas where the disease is an ongoing problem (these are known as "endemic" areas). * All dogs regardless of their age, sex, or habitat are susceptible to heartworm infection. The highest infection rates (up to 45%) in dogs not maintained on heartworm preventive are seen within 150 miles of the Atlantic coast from Texas to New Jersey and along the Mississippi River and its major tributaries. Other areas of the United States have lower incidence rates (5% or less) of canine heartworm disease, though even in those states some local regions have environmental, mosquito, and dog population factors that allow a higher incidence of heartworm infection. * Badly affected regions have heartworm infections diagnosed in dogs as young as 1 year, with most areas diagnosing infections primarily between the ages of 3 and 8 years of age. * The infection rate in male dogs is as much as 4 times that of female dogs and dogs housed outdoors are 4 to 5 times more likely to be infected than indoor dogs. * Although there are differences in frequency of infection for various groups of dogs, all dogs in endemic regions should be considered at risk and placed on surveillance/prevention s. Introduction Heartworm was once considered a parasite common in southern climates, it is now recognized as a major, global pest affecting dogs, foxes, wolves and coyotes. Heartworm was discovered nearly a century ago in dogs, and was discovered in cats in the 1920's. Since then scientists have devised diagnostic tests, preventives and treatments, but the disease still spreads. When you are are visiting your local vet, you may notice posters which show the infested heart loaded with long fine spaghetti like worms, this is too remind pet owners not to gamble that their dog or cat will never be bitten by an infected mosquito. Heartworm prevention is simple with regular dosing with preventive medication. If the pet has heartworm infestation this is dangerous; untreated dogs die and treated dogs go through weeks of discomfort while the worms are killed and expelled from their bodies. Testing Heartworms can be detected by blood test. X-rays can also detect the changes in the heart and lungs caused by the presence of adult heartworms in these organs. Prevention Preventive doses come in oral and topical versions, products like Heartguard, Interceptor, heartworm treatment and ProHeart are given monthly. Revolution is a new preventive applied topically. Some of these drugs also kill other parasitic worms, and Revolution also acts against fleas, ticks, and mites. Many veterinarians including the team at Vetstop recommend a year-round heartworm prevention to guard against the occasional infected mosquito flying about in even relatively mild winters. The old saying applies; "Prevention is better than cure".

No comments:

Post a Comment