心絲蟲

heartworm

Heartworm is a name that makes dog owners angry when they hear it. Once a dog is infected, it can be fatal. 😣

Dogs become infected through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes inhale heartworm larvae from an infected dog and carry them into the body of other dogs. Therefore, there will be more heartworm infections in the New Territories, while it is relatively rare in Hong Kong Island or urban areas.

When adult male and female worms mate, heartworms do not lay eggs like other parasites, but instead produce larval microfilariae. Microfilariae are released into the blood circulation system, waiting for mosquitoes to suck them up and carry them to another body. Microfilariae can live in a dog after birth for up to two years. If after this period the mosquitoes do not pick them up, they will die of old age.

Parasites have five larval stages 🪱 :

🔹 L1S 🔹 : Heartworm microfilariae are the first stage larvae
🔹 L2 and L3 🔹 : When a mosquito ingests heartworm microfilariae, the microfilariae will develop into L2 and L3 within the mosquito, which is enough to infect a new dog.
🔹 L4 🔹 : When a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, L3 is not deposited directly into the dog's bloodstream. Instead, it is deposited in a tiny droplet of spit next to a mosquito bite. It develops into L4 within the new subject's skin over the next one to two weeks.
🔹 L5 🔹 : L4 lives in the skin for about three months, until it develops into the L5 stage and is ready to enter the body's circulatory system. L5, which is actually a young adult worm, migrates to the heart and outside to the pulmonary artery to mate.

Adult heartworms are quite large, several inches long, and can even grow up to 14 inches long. In adulthood, heartworms prefer to live in the pulmonary arteries rather than in the heart. It swims to a comfortable tubular artery, where it is massaged and nourished by the passing blood. The presence of heartworms can produce a strong inflammatory response and blood clots in the pulmonary arteries of infected dogs. When the worm count increases, the heart has to work extra hard to pump blood through the clogged arteries.

In a 40-pound dog, for example, more than 25 heartworms can take up most of the right ventricle of the heart. The body will enlarge the heart and increase blood pressure to meet the body's needs, directly causing heart disease and high pulmonary pressure in the future, posing a great threat to life.

How to prevent heartworms:
👉 Choose to take medicine
👉 Annual vaccination.

If your dog is found or diagnosed to be infected, you must follow the veterinarian's instructions for early treatment as soon as possible.

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