Dog Heartworm is a disease common in canines throughout most of the United States. It is caused by a parasitic roundworm (nematode) that lives its adult life primarily in the heart and large vessels of the lungs.
The worms seriously impair the operation of the heart by prohibiting proper valve closure. In heavier infestations, the blood vessels become clogged by the worms. It is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito.
A female mosquito takes a blood meal from a dog infected with the microscopic larval stage of heartworm called microfilariae. The microfilariae migrate to the mosquito’s digestive tract and transform. Next, they break into the mosquitoes body cavity and migrate to the mouthparts.
As the mosquito takes her blood meal, the larvae are deposited onto the skin of the host animal. The worms burrow into the skin and lodge in the tissue for several months. Once the worms have increased in size they enter the bloodstream and eventually lodge in the chambers of the heart where they mature.
In very severe cases dogs will experience jaundice, heart failure and death. See your veterinarian immediately if you suspect dog heartworm.
Heartworm is sometimes treatable with very harsh chemicals that are designed to kill and slowly disintegrate the worms. If all the worms were killed at the same time the animal would suffocate from the tissues. Microfilariae still in the bloodstream are eliminated with another treatment. Treatment lasts between 4 to 6 months, includes isolation of the animal and is very expensive.
Remember: an infected dog can be a constant source of infection for heartworm free dogs.
Heartworm tri-fold brochure to print and distribute.
West Nile virus (WNV) is a disease spread to humans, birds, horses and other animals, by infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes get the disease from infected birds and pass it on to other animals while taking a blood meal.
In a very small number of cases West Nile has been spread through blood transfusions, organ donation or mother to baby.
Anyone living in an area where West Nile virus is present in mosquitoes can get infected. West Nile virus has been detected in all lower 48 states (not in Hawaii or Alaska). The first outbreaks in the United States occurred in New York City 1999, outbreaks have been occurring ever since.
The risk of infection is highest for people who work outside or participate in outdoor activities because of greater exposure to mosquitoes.
Morris County monitors mosquito population levels and for presence of the disease in mosquitoes and birds. Mosquito samples are sent to the New Jersey Department of Health for disease testing.
Control efforts will be intensified if disease shows up, targeting the aquatic stage of the mosquito first, then the adult mosquitoes.