HEARTWORM disease is a parasitic infection caused by Dirofilaria immitis. This is a nematode (roundworm) that lives primarily in the pulmonary arteries and the right heart of dogs and, less commonly, cats and ferrets. The disease may sometimes affect other species, such as wild canids and felids, sealions and, sporadically, humans; however, these species are generally considered dead-end hosts as the parasite does not reach full maturity and cannot complete its biological cycle. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquito bites and there are more than 70 species of mosquito that can potentially transmit the infection. This article discusses the epidemiology and pathogenesis of heartworm disease, as well as its diagnosis and management.
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