AKRON, Ohio– Akron ranks fifth in the nation for the highest percentage increase in positive heartworm tests in dogs and cats.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council, a non-profit aimed at raising awareness in parasite threats to pets, issued the study earlier this month. Heartworm is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota topped the list, followed by Rockford, Illinois; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Anaheim, California.
“It takes just one heartworm-infected dog in an area to become a reservoir of infection, increasing the number of infected mosquitoes and ultimately spreading the heartworm parasite to unprotected dogs and cats,” said Dr. Michael Yabsley, CAPC board member and professor in the Department of Population Health, College of Veterinary Medicine and Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia, in a news release.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends monthly heartworm protection and annual testing.
“While southern regions of the country have historically been associated with heartworm, we now know pets all over the country are potentially at risk for heartworm disease throughout the year,” Yabsley said.
It only takes one mosquito bite to infect a pet with heartworm larvea. In dogs, it takes about six months for test positive. Symptoms include couching and trouble breathing.
Heartworm is less common in cats, but can cause coughing, vomiting and death.