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American Heartworm Society Urges Cat Owners to Realize Risk

If a cat has a respiratory issue, the real issue could be much more serious

BATAVIA, Ill., March 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Heartworm Society(AHS) has released its "2007 Guidelines for the Diagnosis, Prevention and Management of Heartworm Infection in Cats" and stresses the importance of pet owners knowing all the facts. The AHS urges pet owners to view the guidelines on the AHS Web site and initiate dialogue with their veterinarians to assess their pet's risk.

"Each year cats die needlessly from complications related to this preventable disease. We are spreading the word and making these guidelines available to everyone, so the entire veterinary profession and the pet-owning public has access to the information," said Tom Nelson, DVM, president of The American Heartworm Society.

Some important issues addressed in the guidelines:

  1. Is it Heartworm? -- New Syndrome Defined -- Some cats never exhibit clinical signs of heartworm disease, but when signs are evident, they sometimes resemble symptoms usually associated with allergic bronchitis. This occurrence is due to a syndrome newly defined as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD).
  2. Year-Round Prevention is Supported -- Most veterinarians recommend year-round heartworm prevention, even in seasonal areas. Surveys show only 75 percent of prescribed doses are given, but administering preventives year-round increases effectiveness and it is possible to actually stop worms from developing into adults. Several monthly heartworm preventives are also active against some intestinal parasites.
  3. Interpreting Test Results -- Heartworm infection in cats is harder to diagnose than it is in dogs, and it is easy to overlook. Diagnostic tests have limitations, so negative test results do not necessarily rule out an infection.
  4. Education is Key -- To help communicate this new information and increase public awareness, the AHS is embarking on a public awareness campaign in partnership with the American Association of Feline Practitioners, underwritten by a grant from Pfizer Animal Health. The campaign is called KNOW Heartworms and information can be found at knowheartworms.org.

About The American Heartworm Society

Founded during the Heartworm Symposium of 1974, The American Heartworm Society was formed to facilitate and encourage the generation and dissemination of information about heartworm disease and encourages adoption of standardized procedures for its diagnosis, treatment and prevention. For more information, www.heartwormsociety.org



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