(PRWEB) June 19, 2014
As the warm summer months approach, a hot topic in veterinary medicine re-emerges. The topic pertains to heartworm disease. Many pet owners are educated on this topic, however, the latest statistics and trends that were released by the GVMA (Georgia Veterinary Medical Association) are alarming. These statistics are nationwide, but are extremely important to those of us living in the southeast.
Did you know that heartworm disease is in every state now? However, several factors play a role in the disease prevalence in the different states, such as weather, owner compliance, transportation of infected dogs in and out of state, etc. Geographically, it makes sense that the southeast is a heartworm hotbed in the USA. Our warm weather and intermittent rainy days create an oasis for breeding mosquitos. Mosquitos are the vector for heartworm disease spread. Most recent studies show that Atlanta is the #1 city in the country for mosquito infestation. The state of Georgia is #8 in the USA for heartworm incidence. The southeastern states comprise seven of the top ten positions for heartworm incidence. Those are some IMPRESSIVE stats for all of us living in the southeast. Hence, the reason why veterinarians are constantly checking in with you concerning your heartworm preventative supply.
Many veterinarians in the United States have seen an almost 20% increase in heartworm disease in their patients this past year. Dr. Marcus Smith, veterinarian of Chattahoochee Animal Clinic in Roswell Georgia has been witness to the increase in heartworm diagnosis. “We have seen a surge in heartworm disease in the Atlanta area few years, so the logical question is why the increase? Is there a lack of efficacy in the product? No, the veterinary heartworm preventatives still remain highly efficacious.”
However, one reported factor has been created by the fantastic movement of Americans rescuing dogs from the shelter. Many of these dogs have been living outdoors and often in poor conditions therefore they contract heartworm disease prior to arriving in a shelter. The last factor mentioned is pet owner compliance. This was the most common contributing factor to the upward trend in heartworm disease.
So what is poor compliance? Poor compliance is defined as not administering preventatives year-round or skipping doses during the winter months. Per Dr. Jones, president of the American Heartworm Society, "Heartworm disease is a devastating but preventable disease. If we make consistent, year-round prevention in dogs and cats a priority, we will see incidence go down." It is a very simple message and it requires a commitment from all pet parents. When you use preventatives year round, you serve as an example to others. This sends a positive message to those who are not educated on heartworm disease. As the education from one pet parent to another pet parent increases we will see heartworm disease prevalence decrease.
Chattahoochee Animal Clinic encourages every pet parent to make sure you are vigilant in your heartworm prevention, and if you know others who are not...educate them, print out this article, refer them to a veterinarian who can speak to them in detail about heartworm disease. Dr. Smith states, “As a veterinarian, we are here to educate and be the advocate for our dogs and cats. We always look forward for an opportunity to educate pet owners and help improve the overall care of our beloved pets. Together, veterinarians and pet owners will be able to turn the table on heartworm disease and reduce the incidence in 2014.”