Avoid contamination during holidays abroad!
Heartworms are located in the major blood vessels around the heart to dog- and felines. The infection is transmitted by blood-sucking mosquitoes and only seen in Netherlands in animals which are derived from (sub) tropical regions in which the parasite occurs. However, find the areas where the disease is spreading or growing. Heartworm infection has been observed in northern France. Areas where the infection occurs very much like America, Africa, Asia, Australia and Southern Europe.
Adult female worms produce larvae that circulate in the blood and can survive there 2½ years. When this is transferred via a blood meal by a mosquito, the larva develops in the next victim under the skin within a few months to young worms. This move allows blood vessels to be transported to the lungs and the heart. The worms can grow there and 5 to 7 years stay alive. The cat is found to be less sensitive to a heart worm infection than the dog. Additionally, worms in the cat smaller and live shorter (2 to 3 years). The infection disappears when the cat usually self, probably by a strong immune response.
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The worms damage the wall of the heart and major pulmonary arteries. This allows moisture to form in the lungs and enlargement of the heart with ultimate failure of heart function.
The disease begins dormant reduced stamina and sometime coughing. Later occurs weight loss, liver enlargement, fluid in the abdominal cavity and respiratory problems.
The vet thinks of heartworm infection when the disease history shows that the animal comes from a country where the infection is known (e.g. Stray animal adoption) whether there has been on vacation. The disease symptoms suggestive of cardiac disease which can be seen on a photograph of the chest cavity (fluid in the lungs, and an enlarged heart). In addition, an ultrasound and ECG (EKG) can be made. In blood smears can sometimes be demonstrated small larvae. For several years, there are blood tests available that heartworm can prove.
The simplest measure to prevent infection is to not bring pets to areas where the disease occurs. When this is done nevertheless, should be treated monthly with special anthelmintics (ask it to your veterinarian). The treatment will be started shortly before departure and continued until one month after returning home.
Treatment of an animal with an adult heartworm infection brings risks with it. Injections with the adult worms can be slain, but when mass release and are carried by the bloodstream can cause problems because they get stuck in blood vessels (thrombosis). In severe cases, the worms can also be removed surgically.
Six weeks later the treatment is repeated is directed to the neutralization of the larvae in the blood. When the animal has been treated in this manner and the parasites have disappeared, then the prospects are good.