Heartworms in Cache Valley?

Prior to 2007 the incidence of heartworm disease in Cache Valley was fairly low.  Most Dogs that were diagnosed had traveled outside the area and brought it back with them.  Since 2007 we have diganosed at Bridgerland Animal Hospital over 50 dogs with the disease.  Heartworms are spread from dog to dog by mosquitos, making even indoor dogs at risk for the problem.  After getting bit by an infected mosquito, the microscopic immature worms take upto 6 months to reach adulthood and begin reproducing.  Prior to maturing the larval stages live in the bloodstream, and move throughout the body.  The adult worms tends to live in the heart and large arteries of the lungs.  Adults can reach up to 14 inches in length and can cause considerable damage.   With enough worms blood flow is impaired and heart function is reduced, but even small numbers can cause significant inflammatory disease in the circulatory system and kidneys.  The best way to deal with these parasites is to avoid them all together by preventative medication that kills the larva before they reach their adult size.  While dogs are the natural host for these worms, cats may also become infected and have significant disease.  In fact, due to their smaller size cats are more affected by fewer worms when an infection does occur.  A monthly  preventative is the key in protecting our four legged family members.

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