Louisiana is ranked number 2 in the nation for heartworm incidents in pets. At least one million pets in the U.S. are estimated to currently have the disease. The President of the American Heartworm Society Doctor Stephen Jones says the state is unique in the reasons we have outbreaks.
"You have a mosquito population there that is tremendous. So the mosquito is a problem because it is the transmitter of heartworm disease. You also have a wildlife population that harbors heartworm disease, not to mention many pets that are infected with heartworm disease," Jones says.
Jones says all it takes in one infected pet in a neighborhood to spike the number of animals with heartworms. He says once a mosquito bites one pet, it can transmit the disease up to half a mile away.
"When we look at infected pets that are not diagnosed, that pet is going to be a problem for all other pets near it," Jones says.
Heartworms can cause permanent damage to the heart, lungs and pulmonary arteries and can even be life threatening to our furry friends. Jones says the prevention of heartworms is a big step in keeping pets healthy.
"Everybody should have their pet tested. When negative they should be placed on heartworm prevention. Prevention is very simple. It comes in various forms, we have topical, we have oral products and we have an injectable product. Heartworm prevention through the use of heartowrm medications is the answer," Jones says.