ROCKFORD (WREX) — A new study reveals cats and dogs in Rockford are at a higher risk of a potentially fatal parasitic disease.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) released their top ten cities monthly heartworm report for July. The report found Rockford to rank #2 in the country for the highest increase in positive heartworm test results in the past 30-45 days.
Heartworm disease caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis and is transmitted by mosquitoes. The disease can cause lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage and death of the animal.
The CAPC says the increase in exposure could have been locally or through travel. Other factors include transporting of shelter dogs, pet owner compliance in administering monthly heartworm preventatives, changing weather patterns and mosquito microclimates.
Here’s a breakdown of the heartworm life cycle.
The CAPC reccomends heartworm protection 12 months of the year and annual heartworm testing, regardless of where pets live or travel.
“It takes just one heartworm-infected dog in an area to become a reservoir of infection, increasing the number of infected mosquitoes and ultimately spreading the heartworm parasite to unprotected dogs and cats,” said d Dr. Michael Yabsley, CAPC board member and professor in the Department of Population Health, College of Veterinary Medicine and Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia.