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American Heartworm Society Survey Shows Heartworm on the Rise

Thursday, June 1, 2017

In 2016 the average number of dogs diagnosed per clinic was almost 22 percent higher than in 2013.

The American Heartworm Society (AHS) recently released its 2016 Incidence Survey results and it is not good, per clinic cases of heartworm are rising.

The organization which is devoted to funding research and spreading heartworm disease awareness conducts surveys on U.S. veterinarians every three years with the first being in 2001.

While the disease epicenters have varied slightly, the top five states with heartworm cases in 2016 were: Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Tennessee. Other states with high disease rates were: Alabama, Florida, Georgie, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Alabama, Louisiana and Texas all saw decreases in their per-practice averages of dogs diagnosed with heartworm. On the other hand, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee all saw increases.

Along with its survey findings, the AHS has also published a Heartworm Incidence 2016 map (click here to view).

According to AHS President, Christopher Rehm, the average number of dogs diagnosed with heartworm per clinic was almost 22% higher than the 2013 survey findings. 

“When veterinarians study our new heartworm incidence map, they will note that the distribution of heartworm cases hasn’t changed dramatically since we surveyed veterinary practices three years ago,” Rehm said. “What caught our attention is that the number of heartworm-positive cases per practice is on the rise.”

About 23% of the veterinarians surveyed reported seeing more heartworm cases in 2016 than in 2013 and about 20% reported a decline.

64% of veterinarians reporting decreases since 2013 attribute it to a change in pet owner protocols like an increased usage of heartworm preventatives
Around 48% of veterinarians who saw a rise in heartworm after 2013 believe it to be due to dog owners failure to use preventatives, skipping doses or not giving it throughout the year.

Rehm says “Veterinarians are telling us that there is a straightforward answer to this: convince more pet owners to use preventives and convince them to protect their pets year-round—with no lapses.”

Source: Veterinary Practice News