Today's Veterinary Practice

JAN-FEB 2018

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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14 PRACTICAL PARASITOLOGY Because of their friendly and playful character, ferrets are commonly kept as pets in the United States. Ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) belong to the family Mustelidae. The genus Mustela includes weasels, the European mink, the American mink, ferrets, and South American weasels. Ferrets were originally domesticated and bred to hunt rabbits; although this practice is not common in the United States, it is still in use in Europe and Asia. 1 Ferrets, like more than 30 other mammalian species with documented infections, are susceptible to infection with heartworms ( FIGURE 1 ). 2 ETIOLOGY OF HEARTWORM DISEASE The first description of a heartworm infection was written in Italy in 1626; the first description in the United States was in 1847. 3 Heartworm disease (HWD) is a vector-borne disease caused by the filarial nematode Dirofilaria immitis. This parasite belongs to the superfamily Filarioidea and the family Onchocercidae. Transmission is primarily via 3 species of mosquitos (Aedes trivittatus, Aedes sierrensis, and Culex quinquefasciatus); however, 70 species of mosquitos can function as vectors for infection. PREVALENCE HWD is widespread and can be found in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. 4,5 New models have been developed to predict HWD prevalence in dogs based on several factors (climate, geography, and society) and help in predicting outbreaks in the United States. The southeastern US has an exceptionally high risk of infection, but infections are described in all of the lower 48 states. 6 shutterstock.com/Burdun Iliya Heartworm Infection in Ferrets Leonie Kondert, DVM Joerg Mayer, DVM, MS, DABVP, DACZM University of Georgia PRACTICAL PARASITOLOGY PEER REVIEWED FIGURE 1. The right chamber of a ferret heart affected with Dirofilaria . Image courtesy of pathology service at the University of Georgia (UGA).

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