Friday, May 22, 2009
Heartworms: their symptoms, prevention, treatment
Prevention of heartworms is simple and only involves a blood draw to determine wether the parasite is present and regular dosing with preventive medication.
Heartworm is a parasitic roundworm that is spread from host through the bites of mosquitos. The heartworm is a type of filaria, a small thread-like worm. The definitive host is the dog but it can also infect cats, wolves, as well as other animals and humans in rare occasion.
Parasites go through several stages of life before to emerge as adult and often need at least two hosts to complete the cycle.
In heartworms, a mosquito serves as the intermediate host for the larval stage of the worm also know as the microfilariae. The mosquito ingests the larva when it bites an infected dog and deposit it back when it bites an uninfected dog. The microfilariae burrow into the dog and undergo several changes to reach adult form, then travel to the right side of the heart through a vein and awit the opportunity to reproduce. It takes about six, seven month between the initial infection and reproduction by adult worms living into the heart of dogs.
According to the Heartworm Society, the highest infection rates occur in dogs not maintained on heartworm preventive within 150 miles of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and along the Mississipi River and its major tributaries.
Visible signs of the heartworms disease may not appear until a full year after the dog was bitten by infected mosquitos. In fact, the disease may be well advanced before the dog shows any symptoms which is an important reason to use preventive medicine. The symptoms include a dog easily tired, cough, and appear rough and not thriving. Blood and worms from ruptures vessels may be coughed up and blockage of major blood vessels can cause the animal to collapse suddenly and die within a few days... Read More