The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) has forecasted this year’s heartworm prevalence will decrease in number, but cautions pet owners that this is a decline from last year’s elevated risk. Heartworm preventive care is just as important so that the trend of decreased numbers continues, they said.
CAPC provides the veterinary and pet owner community with the latest numbers of tested and reported cases of heartworm and other parasites that affect pets in the Parasite Prevalence Maps section. As new disease prevalence information becomes available, CAPC also sends out automatic email updates to alert owners by state and by county. Owners can also Visit the “How To” Page to learn how to sign up to receive these updates for their specific area and to access information for any place they may be traveling.
Heartworm disease can be found in all 50 states and is caused when an infected mosquito bites your dog or cat. Over a period of weeks and months, larvae move from the bite wound through the body and develop into small worms. These worms make their way to the heart and surrounding arteries. They can grow to be up to a foot long and can live in a dog five to seven years. Because the disease takes time to develop, some pets may be infected without any noticeable symptoms, making annual testing by your veterinarian even more important. When symptoms become evident, they may include cough, lack of energy, intolerance to exercise and fainting. If left untreated, the dog can die. There is no treatment for heartworm-infected cats.
CAPC says the best way to avoid heartworm disease in your dog or cat is with a monthly preventive. There are many available from your veterinarian, who will help you find one best suited for you and your pet. The organization recommends year-round prevention as well as annual testing. In the case of heartworm disease, prevention definitely is the best medicine. To learn more tips on how to protect your loved ones from disease, visit the CAPC heartworm brochure available here.
CAPC bases its parasite forecasts on several factors, including temperature, precipitation, humidity, elevation, forest cover, population density, reported ehrlichiosis cases and deer strikes with cars. The forecast is also the collective expert opinion of respected parasitologists who engage in ongoing research and data interpretation to better understand and monitor disease transmission and changing life cycles. Click Here to learn more about the CAPC forecasts.