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April is Heartworm Awareness Month

Friday, March 27, 2015  
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Recognize Heartworm Awareness Month in April                                                


Phoenix, AZ – March 25, 2015 – With the beginning of a new mosquito season, the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association (AzVMA) is reminding pet owners that April is Heartworm Awareness Month.

            Heartworm infection is a devastating illness that appears primarily in dogs, but also affects cats and ferrets.   Spread exclusively by mosquitoes that become parasitic hosts by feeding on infected animals, heartworm infection occurs when mosquitos transmit larvae into other animals through their bite. Because mosquitos get into our homes, even animals that are strictly indoors are at risk for heartworm disease.  The infection results in worms, up to 14 inches long, living in the right side of the heart and arteries of the lungs.  The worms damage the arteries, leading to heart failure. 

            The good news is that the disease is preventable with a variety of methods. Most of the products are either a liquid that is placed on the pet’s skin or an oral medication. Most provide protection for 30 days, so pets need to be re-dosed every month. The vast majority of pets don’t seem to mind getting their heartworm prevention, and many of them look forward to their monthly “treat.”  It is recommended to have animals tested for heartworm disease prior to starting preventative medication.

              While some people who have lived in Arizona for many years may not think that heartworm is a problem in this state, some events in the past 10 years have contributed to it being more prevalent here than in some of the Midwestern states. Half of the dogs that were relocated from New Orleans to Maricopa County after Hurricane Katrina tested positive for heartworm. Also, the increase in green pools during the recession has helped to increase our mosquito population in the Phoenix area. 

             Call the AzVMA at 602-242-7936 for more information.  The Arizona Veterinary Medical Association is a membership organization representing over 2,000 veterinary professionals in the state of Arizona.

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