In recent months, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of heartworm cases in our area. There were 12 confirmed cases last year. Most have been in Springville, be we have also seen cases in Porterville and Lindsay. We feel it is important to have all dogs to be tested for and placed on a simple once a month heartworm preventative like HEARTGARD PLUS CHEWABLES, SENTINEL TABLETS, or REVOLUTION topical. All that is necessay for the spread of heartworm is a healthy mosquito population.
Briefly, this disease is caused by a worm, Dirofilaria Immitis, that resides in the chambers of the heart and in the large vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs. Adult worms produce larve called microfilaria. These microfilaria circulate in the blood until picked up by a feeding mosquito. Once in the mosquito they undergo two moult stages and migrate to the mouth parts of the mosquito. When the mosquito bites another dog , these infective larvae enter the wound and undergo two more moult stages while migrating through the body tissues toward the heart. After reaching the heart, they mature into the final adult stage and begin to produce microfilaria. The whole cycle takes about 6 months. Adult worms can live up to 8 years in the heart.
Increasing numbers of adult worms in the heart cause a mechanical interferance to blood flow. Symptoms of Heartworm Disease are very similar to those of heart failure: tiring easily, coughing, fainting, and weight loss in spite of a good appetite and diet. Infected dogs can be treated, but the treatment is not without significant risk and expense.
Prevention of Heartworn Disease is a very simple task. A small blood sample is taken from your dog to confirm that there are no microfilaria already present. Then a medication is prescribed according to your dog's weight which is to be given once a month. This medication kills migrating larvae before they reach the heart. When given regularly, it will keep your dog safe from Heartworm Disease.
Please call if you have any further questions, or to set up an appointment for testing.