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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, February 21, 2024


Heartworm disease is a well-known problem for dogs, but cats are also at risk for this deadly disease. In a cat, one worm is enough to cause coughing, exercise intolerance, and possibly stroke or sudden death.
The worms actually live in the animal's heart and large blood vessels. The microfilaria or larvae live in the bloodstream. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes. A mosquito bites an affected animal (dog or cat) and then transmits the disease when it bites another animal.
The Virgin Islands have a high incidence of heartworm disease especially among the feral animals on the islands. Also, the huge populations of mosquitoes contribute to the rapid spread of the disease.
If your pet is exposed to mosquitoes, it is exposed to heartworm disease. Dogs can be given a rigorous treatment to cure the heartworm disease.
There is no approved treatment for heartworm in cats, and attempts at treating the disease often cause the death of the cat. Prevention of the heartworm infection is the best alternative.
Once a month heartworm preventative tablets are available for cats as well as dogs. These chewable tablets also aid in the prevention of certain intestinal parasites (roundworms and hookworms). This monthly treat may add years to your pet's life will certainly improve their health.
Editors' note: Dr. Laura Palminteri practices veterinary medicine at Cruz Bay Canines, Cats & Critters on St. John. A 1991 graduate from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, she practiced small animal and equine medicine in New York before opening her practice on St. John.

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