Canine filariasis – It’s time to fight mosquito menace together

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Dr Neelakshi Deka
Dr A Sangaran
With the rise of mosquitoes all around the globe, there is a growing concern about health and well being. One of the many concerns include parasitic diseases where mosquitoes play the role of vector for the organism. Thus, with increasing outdoor activity of our pets, it is the time for both pet parents and vets to roll up their sleeves and fight the mosquito menace. –by Dr Neelakshi Deka and Dr. A Sangaran
Canine filariasis is a disease seen in animals caused by Dirofilaria Immitis, commonly referred as the Canine Heartworm, which localises in the right ventricle of the heart. This heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes. These mosquito vectors inject the dog with larval stages (microfilaria) of the Dirofilaria worm while feeding on your pet’s blood. Dogs have greater range of outdoor activities and those who are sheltered are more prone to pick up infection than those dogs with sedentary and kept indoors.
Mosquito bites can be dangerous for your pets
The immature larvae circulate in the dog’s blood causing mechanical damage to the pulmonary arteries. Later, they grow into mature adult worms leading to further aggravation of the condition. The pulmonary arteries become rough and thickened, form blood clots within the heart and obstruct the normal blood flow.
Keep that vigil for early detection
When this condition happens you can see these signs –
• Intolerance to exercise
• Getting tired early due to impaired blood pumping by the heart
• Mild but persistent coughing
• Reduced eagerness towards food
• Unexplained weight loss
When these indications go unnoticed by the pet parent, the disease progresses to its next level where it results in a swollen abdomen due to accumulation of extra fluid in the abdomen and a bulging chest. As a pet parent you should be cautious and keep an eye on these early symptoms of the disease. Early detection is the key to curb the problem. It is life-saving where early diagnosis and initiation of treatment caused expulsion of the worm from the heart and restore its normal functioning.
Small steps make a big difference
Small steps can help reduce chances of infection such as reduced outdoor activity during hours when mosquitoes are at peak (dawn and dusk). Keep the surrounding clean so that breeding places of the mosquitoes are minimised. This is of course for your wellbeing as well. Ask your vet for preventive medication for Dirofilariasis and get regular blood testing in cases of suspected mosquito bite.Mosquitoes menace cannot be overlooked, all we can do it give them a tough fight and protect ourselves and our furry friends from their harmful effects.
(Dr Neelakshi Deka is from Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Chennai and Dr A Sangaran from Department of Veterinary Parasitology, Madras Veterinary College.)

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