A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about ProHeart 6, which is an every-6-month injection to prevent heartworm. A reader commented on this post, sharing his story about ProHeart 6 and his dog, a 2 year old female Lab. She received ProHeart 6 injection in early March, and she vomited 30 minutes after the injection. Four days later, she had a seizure. Bloodwork completed after the seizure was normal, and she was also evaluated by a veterinary neurologist. Her diagnosis at this time is epilepsy. [Read more…]
In keeping with the creepy-crawly theme for early Spring, today’s post highlights a news story from this week about Lyme disease. We probably all know people and pets that have had to deal with the debilitating effects of this disease. Did you know that ticks collected on Long Island in the 1940’s carried the Lyme bacteria? We tend to think Lyme disease is “new,” but it really has been around for a long time. Why does it seem like more and more infections occur now? It’s partly because the infection is being diagnosed and reported more often. But it’s also related to the deer population, which has rebounded from practically nil in Southern New England in the early 20th century. Human behavior is also a factor: we are increasingly building and living in previously rural areas, thereby increasing our contact with ticks. [Read more…]
Last week I shared a list of currently marketed products for heartworm prevention. The last two I mentioned were Trifexis and ProHeart 6. If you do a Google search with either of these search terms, you will find a mix of official websites for the products, sites selling the products, and sites with negative press about the products. You don’t have to read for too long to realize the situation is complicated and people have taken sides. Let’s start with some history about Trifexis. [Read more…]
So we’ve established that we don’t want our pets to be infected with heartworms. My friend Dr. Melissa McFarland commented on my last blog post via Facebook, reminding me that we vets are facing a shortage of the drug used to treat heartworm infection. As of the end of last year, the FDA has allowed the drug manufacturer to import limited quantities of drug into the U.S. from Europe, to augment the small amount being produced domestically. This will hopefully allow dogs with the most severe infections to be treated. Dr. McFarland also commented that she personally treated SEVEN cases of heartworm in southcentral Pennsylvania last year. This highlights how the heartworm has become more prevalent in areas where it once was considered rare. In contrast, during my first year in veterinary practice 15 years ago, the entire clinic (with four vets) had only a couple of cases.
It’s March, and although we still have a lot of snow on the ground here in the Northeast, soon the mosquitoes will be buzzing. In addition to making us bumpy and itchy, mosquitoes carry diseases. For dogs and cats, the threat is heartworm, which is now found in all fifty states. The mosquito carries the immature form of the worm, which is transferred into a dog or cat’s bloodstream during the bite. It takes 6-7 months after the mosquito bites a dog for the worms to mature to adults, at which point they start producing the infective form called microfilariae. By 3-4 months after the mosquito bite, immature worms have reached the lungs, and they will eventually be forced into the right ventricle of the heart. [Read more…]