Dirofilaria immitis: All You Need to Know about It

People know about the heartworms or the Dirofilaria immitis or the dog heartworms, is a kind of parasite. It is a small thread-like worm that causes this disease. And the host is the mosquito by which it is transmitted to the dogs. It spreads from host to host. People only know that it is basically related to the dogs but foxes, jackals, wolves, coyotes, ferrets, bears, cats, seals, and the sea lions can be affected by these heartworms. The only way to prevent this dire condition is the Heartgard plus medicines that are available in the local market as well as in online stores also. Heartgard plus chewable are given monthly and requires the prescription from your veterinarian let’s have its classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Nematoda
  • Class: chromadorea
  • Order: rhabditida
  • Family: onchocercidae
  • Genus: Dirofilaria
  • Species: Dirofilaria immitis

The Course Of Infection: The domestic dog is the primary host, the infected mosquito bite a healthy dog and transmit its larvae L3 to the dog’s skin. Larvae mature from the L3 into L4 and infest the muscles and the blood vessels. After that, the larvae mature into the adult worms and infest the pulmonary artery and the right heart. Adult worms mate in the heart and the female worm begins to reproduce here in the heart and produce the larvae L1 that are released into the blood. And due to this the arteries and the heart get lodged and the dog dies due to heart failure. If a mosquito bites this infected dog it ingests the larvae L1. Within the mosquito, this L1 matures to the L3 stage and the cycle goes on and on.

The transmission is limited to the warm weather and the duration of the transmission season varies geographically. The process of the worms from the biting of the mosquito to the adult worms in the pulmonary artery takes about six to seven months in dogs. This period is known as the prepatent period.

Diagnosis: 1-Antigen testing is the most practice to detect this parasite. Combining the microfilaria and the adult antigen is the most useful tests in the dogs. But here the disadvantage of this test is it only detects the antigen released by the female worms so it is negative in the first five to eight months of the infection.

2-x-rays are done to the dogs when there is the seriousness of the disease and the heartworms are in numbers. Here the changes are observed like enlargement of the main pulmonary artery and the right side of the heart. Sometimes the inflammation of the lung tissues can be seen.

Treatment: When the dog is found to be infected by the heartworms then the dog is evaluated for the heart, lungs and kidney functions to evaluate any risk during the treatment. With the arsenic-based compound the adult worms can be killed. Some of the medications have side effects also. After the treatment, the dog is recommended to have the proper rest for several weeks so it can have sufficient stamina to absorb the dead worms without any illness. Have knowledge about this dire condition and you can save your pet’s life.

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