Warmer Winter Season and Above-Average Temperatures Bring Out Insects Earlier
With heartworm being diagnosed in all 50 states and The Companion Animal Parasite Council’s spring 2012 forecast calls for elevated levels of heartworm disease this year, with “high” levels in the Northeastern United States — including New York State — Central Veterinary Associates is warning pet owners that, with mosquitoes coming out earlier as the result of a warm winter, there will be a greater prevalence of heartworm during the spring season.
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries inside the animal’s lungs and, on occasion, in the right side of the animal’s heart. The adult female heartworms release their young, called microfilarie, into an animal’s bloodstream. While taking blood meal from an infected animal, the mosquito carries the micofilarie, which, in turn, matures to the infective larval stage within the mosquito over a 10- to 14-day period. After that, the mosquito deposits the microfilarie through the animal bite and the infected larvae develop into an adult worm within six months. In dogs, the worms may live for up to seven years.
CVA urges all pet owners to test their pets for heartworm disease and begin a regimen of heartworm preventatives if they have not done so already. The warmer weather provides a great opportunity for their 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 to prevent these infections from occurring in animals than having to treat them.