Today's Veterinary Practice

JUL-AUG 2014

Today's Veterinary Practice provides comprehensive information to keep every small animal practitioner up to date on companion animal medicine and surgery as well as practice building and management.

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Peer reviewed Heartworm Hotline July/August 2014 today's Veterinary Practice 69 Heartworm Hotline Key Findings from the 2013 American Heartworm Society Survey Stephen Jones, DVM Lakeside Animal Hospital Moncks Corner, South Carolina President, American Heartworm Society The Heartworm Hotline column is presented in partnership between Today's Veterinary Practice and The American Heartworm Society ( The goal of the column is to communicate practical and timely information on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heartworm disease, as well as highlight current topics related to heartworm research and findings in veterinary medicine. A lthough heartworm infection is highly prevent- able, it remains one of the most common diseas- es veterinary professionals work to prevent, diag- nose, and treat. Hundreds of thousands of cases are diagnosed every year. It is estimated that more than a million dogs nationwide are heartworm positive. Every 3 years since 2001, the American Heartworm Soci- ety (AHS) has conducted a nationwide survey of veterinar- ians to study trends in heartworm incidence. The survey in- formation is used to inform both the veterinary profession and the public about the need for heartworm prevention. The latest survey, released in March 2014, utilized 2013 heartworm testing data. These findings reflect data from more than 4500 veterinary clinics and shelters, repre- senting 3.5 million patients. Participating veterinarians also answered questions about heartworm trends in their practice areas. HEARTWORM INCIDENCE SURVEY FINDINGS While a number of data points were included in the 2013 Heartworm Incidence Survey, the key takeaway is simple: heartworm disease is essentially everywhere in the U.S. (Figure 1). Heart- worm cases were identified in all 50 states, and 3 out of 4 veterinarians diagnosed pa- tients as heartworm positive during 2013. Heartworm incidence cal- culations were based on the average number of cases di- agnosed per veterinary prac- tice. Within most areas, human population numbers were in proportion to the numbers of heartworm-positive dogs: If human population numbers were high, heartworm-positive dog numbers were also high; whereas, the number of heartworm cases in areas with sparse populations were low, with average incidence rates of one case per clinic or less. These areas appear in white on the AHS Heartworm Incidence Map (Figure 1). GEOGRAPHICAL TRENDS IN HEARTWORM INCIDENCE While the top 10 states with the highest average rate of heartworm-positive cases per clinic have not changed since the 2010 survey, the order has changed, with Ala- Figure 1. This map indicates the average number of heartworm cases per reporting clinic in the United States in 2013.

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