Vets Warn Of Increased Heartworm Incidence In 2012

I have been reading a lot of information published online by Vets just recently, highlighting the seriousness of the heartworm situation this year.

An article by Julie Damron, a vet at the Sierra Veterinary Clinic in Stockton, California reported that in a normal year, they probably diagnose six or seven dogs with heartworm disease – this year (and her article was published May 12th), they have already diagnosed five dogs.

Julie goes on to say that in the past, many of the cases diagnosed were dogs that had contracted the disease when travelling outside the state of California, but this year most of her heart worm patients had not.

She attributes the rise in incidence of the disease to changing weather patterns, in particular, rainfall changes which have caused increased numbers of the mosquitoes that carry the disease. (Find link to Julie’s full article at foot of the page)

Animal Parasite Council Predict Increased Heartworm Cases In 2012

Heartworm spread across the US

This Google Maps image shows the approximate location of the three veterinary clinics mentioned in this article - showing the increased incidence of heartworm is spread right across the country.

Almost three thousand miles away on the opposite side of the country, Central Veterinary Associates at Valley Stream NY, are warning in an open press release published online on 15th May, that the Companion Animal Parasite Council are forecasting higher incidence of heartworm disease Nationwide in 2012 and predicting “high” levels in the North Eastern States including NY State.

heartworm mosquitoCentral Veterinary Associates go on to warn pet owners that there are more of the mosquitoes that transmit the disease around this spring after a mild winter.

With temperatures rising they too are predicting higher than normal incidences of pets becoming infected this spring.

Dr Steven Fox, who is President/CEO at Central Veterinary Associates said in the press release:-

“We urge all pet owners to test their pets for heart worm disease and begin a regimen of heartworm preventatives if they have not done so already. The warmer weather provides a great opportunity for your pets to go outside for a walk or to run around, but it also means that they will be exposed to mosquitoes. It will be much easier and healthier for your pet to prevent these infections from occurring than having to treat them.”

(Read the full article by using the link at the foot of the page)

ImmiticideBarbara Griffith (of the Griffith Veterinarian Hospital, Whitmore Lake, Mich.), writing on the Veterinary News Website (read full article using link at the foot of the page) reports that recent posting of notices about the shortage of Immiticide (the only drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of dogs infected with adult heartworms), has produced a very positive result with pet owners visiting her office. She says:-

“Team members would ask clients if they needed any heartworm prevention and they’d say, ‘Nope, we’re all set,’ then they’d see the sign and by the time I got in the room they’d say, ‘You know what? I don’t think we have any at home. We will take some heartworm prevention after all.'”

Barbara goes on to report that whilst many of her patient’s owners would, in the past only purchase one or two doses of heart worm preventatives at the time of their pet’s heartworm test, promising to return to purchase additional supplies – and then never come back. However now that manufacturers (Merial) of the preventatives she dispenses are offering a $12 rebate on every twelve pack (a year’s supply) this incentive has really increased the uptake of preventives.

Barbara says that it is frustrating when she sees patients that have contracted heartworm disease because, as she says, it is one of the conditions that is preventable and she sees many conditions that are not. She says about heartworm:-

“Treatment is expensive and hard on the animal. Hopefully we’ll see a decrease in positive tests.”

Technical Marketing Director of US Parasiticides at Merial, Dr. Michael Murray says that the goal is to get 12% more dogs getting their heartworm prevention medicine all the year round. Merial are supplying educational materials about the disease to Veterinary staff and pet owners at Veterinary Clinics that sign up to this goal and with more than seven thousand vets and veterinary staff now participating, let’s hope this goal is not only achieved, but surpassed in 2012 for the benefit of all our pets.

Sources for this article.

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