Cardiopulmonary Filariasis: Can A Mosquito Be Lethal?

If you have a pet, you know how ticks, fleas and other pests can make a spring walk annoying! However, as we have already explained in a previous article, some good prevention practices can help us to avoid the danger of these parasites.

Today we want to talk about a parasitic disease of dogs and cats that can be easily transmitted through mosquito bites: cardiopulmonary filariasis. The risk of contracting this disease increases at this time of year: the arrival of the heat favors the hatching of the eggs of hematophagous insects, including mosquitoes. Let’s see, then, what are the symptoms, what are the symptoms and how to treat this disease that, if not treated in time, causes the death of dogs and cats who are affected.

Symptoms Of Cardiopulmonary Filariasis

Understanding that your pet is suffering from filariasis is not easy, because this pathology is often totally asymptomatic in the initial phase. Unfortunately, the symptoms almost always appear at an advanced stage: the first warning bells are coughing and fatigue, often accompanied by other disorders, different for dogs and cats.

In dogs, the disease can manifest itself with fatigue, coughing, breathing problems, loss of appetite, heart failure and pulmonary edema; as far as cats are concerned, however, the first signs of its presence are usually vomiting and breathing difficulties.

Rareer in felines, cardiopulmonary philiac disease is however more dangerous for these animals than for dogs, because their heart is much smaller and therefore more fragile.

Cardiopulmonary Filariasis: Where And How To Contract

The disease is caused by a parasite, Dirofilaria Immitis, which is transmitted to animals by means of trivial mosquito bites: the risk of contracting it therefore increases in areas particularly populated by these insects.

In Italy, it is widespread especially in the regions that host the Po Valley, although in recent years there have been numerous cases of filariasis in Tuscany and in some central areas of Sicily and Sardinia.

The mosquito, during the sting, is able to inject into the skin the larvae of the parasite sucked by other animals. Through the blood vessels, these easily reach the heart and the lung vessels, where they are located: here, once they become adults, they, in turn, generate other larvae, the microfiliaries, the same that are taken by mosquitoes during their stings and that will be injected into another animal.

How It Is Taken Care Of

A simple blood sample is sufficient to check for the presence of the disease: the results are very reliable in the dog, less so in the cat.

Once you are certain of the diagnosis, your vet will help you choose the most appropriate treatment. The most common therapy involves the administration of drugs that cause the death of the parasite, an effective method that has, however, very serious side effects. For this reason, in recent years, some specialized centers have developed minimally invasive techniques: the adult parasites present in the animal are removed using probes and pliers, inserted angioscopically.

Preventing Cardiovascular Filariasis

To prevent the onset of the disease there are specific drugs that act on parasites in the larval state, absolutely free of side effects.

The treatment is usually carried out from May to November, months in which the animals are most at risk, and you can choose between two ways: the intake of tablets, to be repeated once a month, or the injection, which acts for about six months.

However, if you have decided to go on a trip or holiday to areas at particular risk, or if particular climatic conditions occur that favour the presence of mosquitoes at times of the year that are not suspect, your vet may recommend a more complete coverage, which also includes the less hot months.

Curbing The Effects Of Filariasis: Why It Is Important

As we have mentioned, diagnosing Filiariasis is not particularly difficult. On the contrary, it is not easy to notice its presence, due to the lack of symptoms that accompanies its initial state; sometimes it can even happen that the dog or the cat die suddenly, without the master being aware of the disease.

For this reason, it is very important to prevent its effects, or to know that you can count on state-of-the-art veterinary facilities: acting promptly with a not too invasive therapy becomes essential for the health and, in the worst cases, the survival of our little friends. If we add to this the cost of medicines, which are not always easy to bear, considering the idea of a health insurance for pets becomes an intelligent choice.

Their health is in fact subject to many risks, and it is not always easy to predict the costs we face when we decide to take care of them, or find professionals prepared at the right time, who know how to advise us on a suitable intervention. The first tool of prevention, in these cases, is precisely the provision.

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