Heartworm Facts and Information

By: SA Perillo

An internal parasite identified as roundworms is the culprit behind the infectious disease found mostly in dogs and cats in every state of America called Heartworm disease. Heartworm disease infects and damages the heart and the lungs as well as other vital organs such as the liver in an irreversible and serious condition. Because the worms that have grown as adult worms live and stay, specifically at the right side of the heart of its host, these worms cause irritation and therefore inflammation to the walls of the pulmonary artery. The thickening brings about the irritation and roughening of the pulmonary artery walls which also dorms blood clots therefore blocking the openings of the blood vessels. In effect, these blockages could cause backpressure to the lungs which leads to the abnormal functions of the other vital organs that depends on normal blood flow circulation.

Heartworm disease is easily transmitted from one animal host to another. With just a single mosquito bite, another animal may be infected. According to studies, the female worms give birth to microfilariae or microscopically smaller worms that travel in the blood. Mosquitoes that suck an infected host would automatically ingest the microfilariae, which stay in the mosquito’s mouth as they grow and become larvae. The larvae are transmitted to another animal through the connective tissues such as skin and muscle. The larvae will then go to the right side of the heart of the host to develop fully as an adult.

The damages to the lungs and heart brought about by heartworm disease are the following: First, there will be injury to the pulmonary artery lining that would (2) increase the pressure within the pulmonary artery causing a condition called pulmonary hypertension. This pulmonary hypertension is the one affecting the right side of the heart causing right-sided heart disease and/or right-sided congestive heart failure. Third is that there will be some major changes in the lungs itself. The changes that include infiltration of lung because of or the white blood cells that fights against parasitic invasion and allergies. The inflammation of the artery may likewise block the openings of the blood vessels causing thrombosis. Inflammatory cells called granulomas made up nodules causing thrombosis. Fourth is the Vena Cava syndrome--- a syndrome that causes intense fear to every veterinarian that yields pulmonary hypertension, death of liver cells and severe damages to red blood cells. Usually, the adult worms that are large in number are responsible to these effects. They interfere in the closing of the valves at the right side of the heart hence, increasing the speed of flow of blood circulation. Fifth is kidney injury. When the worms have grown in too much number, the proteins that worms excrete and the host’s anti-bodies bring complexities to the immune system, thus, damaging it.

Early diagnosis of heartworm disease may save the life of an animal. The symptoms of heartworm disease include coughing, difficulty in breathing, easily tires, weight loss, coughs up blood, bloated abdomen appearance, and bloody looking urine. While you can, save your pet from heartworm disease by letting your pet undergoes laboratory checks and physical check up by the veterinarian as well.

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