Fullarton Vet Clinic
210 Glen Osmond Road
FULLARTON SA 5063
t : 08-8379 9647
Cross Road Vet Clinic
181 Cross Road
WESTBOURNE PARK 5042
t : 08-8373 1699
Heartworm has been a problem in parts of Northern Australia for many years. Over time the parasite has slowly migrated south. It is now a serious problem in ADELAIDE. At this practice we have diagnosed over 200 positive dogs. We are now seeing affected dogs dying as a result of heartworm infections.
Heartworm (dirofilariae imitis) is a parasite which spends its adult life in the right side of the heart and the associated large blood vessels. The adult worms produce microfilariae (babies) which circulate in the dogs blood stream in not hundreds but thousands per ml. A mosquito is needed to transmit the parasite from dog to dog. The mosquito sucks blood, containing microfilariae., from an infected dog. Over a period of 2-3 weeks the microfilariae develop in the mosquito into larvae and then migrate to the mosquitoes mouth. If this mosquito bites another dog the larvae travel to the heart of the new host via the blood stream. These larvae then mature into adult heartworms. It takes approximately six months to complete this cycle.
Symptoms seen in dogs with heartworm start as a chronic cough or reduced exercise tolerance. As the disease progresses the symptoms become more sever. In extreme infections death will result from acute heart or liver failure.
Before any preventative measure can be taken a dog must be shown to be free of heartworm. ALL dogs over 4-5 months of age should be blood tested before starting preventative measures.
TREATMENT OF INFECTED DOGS
Treatment involves a series of injections given over a two day period, these injections kill the adult heartworm.
Four weeks of absolute rest is very important after treatment as we do not want the dead worms 'floating' around in the blood stream. After this four week period we give another injection which kills the microfilariae stage. Four weeks later another blood sample is checked to see if we have cured the infection. If this test is negative then preventative treatment is started.
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CUREPreventative treatment means giving your pet daily or monthly tablets for the rest of his/her life.