Dirofilaria immitis, or heartworm, is a roundworm (a type of filarial worm) that is known to cause dirofilariasis. Dirofilariasis is a very serious condition in dogs. Dirofilariasis is a vector disease, spread by a mosquito from host to host. It is most commonly seen in dogs, but this parasite can also infect foxes, wolves, cats, coyotes, ferrets, bears, and rarely humans.
It is called “heartworm” but adult forms of the parasite reside in the lung arteries and the heart. Adult heartworms sometimes migrate to the right heart and the great veins. Infestation with this parasite may cause serious disease and very often death.
In the video below, you can see microfilaria, the live larvae of Dirofilaria immitis, in a single blood drop.
Prophylactic treatment requires administration of Macrocyclic Lactones.
Curative treatment of established canine heartworm requires surgical removal in addition to administration of Melarsomine dihydrochloride.
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