Heartworm hits region
Speak to a vet about prevention
THE Central Highlands region is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of heartworm cases in dogs.
Maraboon Vet Surgery has had six dogs test positive in the last few months and they expect this number to grow exponentially over the next 12 months.
Veterinarian Dr Angela Sutherland said the dogs diagnosed with heartworm ranged in ages and sizes, from a three-year-old Jack Russell terrier to a sevenyear-old staffy terrier.
“Some patients were showing no signs of illness, where others were showing coughing and exercise intolerance,” Dr Sutherland said.
“None of dogs diagnosed were on constant heartworm prevention.
“One was sporadically given a monthly tablet and the rest were on no prevention at all.”
Dr Sutherland said prevention could be in the form of monthly treatments or a yearly injection.
“Prevention is only as good at the owner’s vigilance in providing treatment,” she said.
“It is thought that up to 40 per cent of heartworm infected dogs have been on monthly prevention, but even missing one dose can leave your dog at risk.
“We recommend that all dogs in the area that have not been on regular heartworm prevention be tested for heartworm.
“If your dog has not been on regular prevention or you are unsure, it is best to have your dog tested before starting or recommencing any heartworm prevention as they can become ill if an inappropriate prevention is given.”
According to Dr Sutherland, since the Queensland flood in 2011, mosquito numbers, and therefore mosquito borne disease including heartworm, were on the rise all over the state.
“The leading manufacturer of heartworm prevention has documented over 1000 cases in last three years, with over 80 per cent of those being in Central to Northern Queensland,” she said.
“It is spread by over 60 mosquito species.
“A single mosquito bite is all that is required to infect a dog that is not on adequate heartworm prevention, even if they never have contact with other dogs.”
Heartworm disease is serious and potentially fatal.
For prevention and treatment of heartworm please contact your local veterinarian.
FATAL DISEASE: Dr Angela Sutherland urges dog owners to seek prevention for heartworm after a dramatic increase.