Reno top 10 city for Heartworm Disease

RENO, Nev (KOLO) -- Veterinarian Katie Cox gives a dog named Aspen the once-over. She'll check teeth, eyes, ears and heart.

Everything checks out. But Dr. Cox knows when it comes to detecting Heartworm disease, more needs to be done.

“I think there is a lot of lack of knowledge in this area because it's not so common,” says Dr. Cox with Fairgrounds Animal Hospital.

Dr. Cox says Heartworm is not common to this area.

But because of expected higher mosquito populations this summer due to our wet winter; combined with new residents who move from areas where heartworm is more prevalent, she and other local veterinarians expect many more cases of Heartworm in Northern Nevada in the coming months.

According to the American Heartworm Society, Reno is one of the top ten cities for Heartworm disease.

There are more than 20 mosquitoes that can carry Heartworm.

They take a blood meal from a dog which has the disease then transfer it to another dog. Tiny microscopic worms enter the bloodstream and take about 6 months to mature. They set up in the heart where they look like threads of spaghetti.

Symptoms include cough, lethargy and loss of appetite. Blood tests can help confirm Heartworms.

Treatment can be extensive and expensive.

“They have to have a series of injections and it takes several months for the whole treatment,” says Dr. Cox. “The other part of the treatment that is difficult is that the dogs have to be very quiet. They can't run and jump and play,” she says.

Treatment can cost up to $1,000.

Prevention is the key. Vets can prescribe a small medicated treat for dogs. Taken once a month, it costs about for dollars.

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