Heartworm is a parasitic infection that happens due to the Dirofilaria immitis roundworm in the human body and pets. In this issue, the worm enters the bloodstream and matures in our body. When the heartworm dies in the body, your immune system reacts with the tissue of the roundworm by inflammation. Due to this, the infection gets serious in our bodies. The condition that happens in our body due to heartworm is pulmonary dirofilariasis.
To know the details about the infection, you should go through the details below. You will know everything about the infection’s symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heartworm Infection?
When the roundworm enters our bloodstream, our body starts fighting the infection. Due to this, a few symptoms start happening in the body. They are-
- You will notice the issue of abnormal cough in your body due to the infection in your body.
- Pain in the chest might happen when the heartworm infection increases in your body.
- You will notice the chills and fever in your body due to the infection.
- When you cough, you might notice blood also along with the cough.
- Issues of wheezing might also happen in your body due to heartworm.
- Lesions in your chest might appear when the physician diagnoses the issue.
- Fluid around your lungs builds up, also known as pleural effusion.
If you notice any of these issues in the body, you should look out for a mosquito bite. If there is a mosquito bite that appears red and itchy, you should see your physician as soon as possible. They will diagnose the issue and then decide on a treatment for you.
How does Heartworm Infection Happen In The Body?
The heartworm infection happens in your body due to a vector, like a mosquito. In very rare cases, your pets are like dogs and cats. The heartworm enters the body of human beings through a mosquito bite. When a mosquito bites the being to have a blood meal, they leave the immature form of roundworm in our body. Now they will move to the bloodstream and try to mature there.
But a fact about heartworms is that they never get to mature fully in our human body. They die young in our blood, and our body becomes active in fighting with the tissue of those heartworms. Due to this, various symptoms arise in our bodies.
Diagnosis Of Heartworm Infection
To diagnose the infection in the human body, the physician will suggest you do an X-ray or computed tomography of your chest region. In this X-ray, the physician will check the coin lesions commonly found near the edge of the lungs. The lesion is known as granuloma, which happens due to the build-up of immune cells in the body to fight the infection.
After spotting the lesion, also known as granuloma, the physician will do a biopsy of your lungs. They do so to check the heartworm infection and rule out any other possibility of the lesions like lung cancer or tuberculosis. After a complete diagnosis, the next task of the physician is to suggest a treatment for curing the condition.
Different Treatment For The Condition
We know that lesions happen in the body due to the dead tissues of the roundworm. The issue does not require much attention and treatment, but the physician will also check the lesions from the angle of cancerogenic cells. If they find any traces of cancerogenic cells, they will perform surgery to remove those lesions. Also, in some cases, the granuloma blocks the arteries, which will require a quick removal. If not done instantly, it will start developing the threat of heart issues.
In very rare cases in human beings, heartworm requires treatment. In this case, your physician might suggest you use Ivermectin 3 mg or Ivermectin 6 mg medicine. It commonly happens in people with weak immune systems. The dose will last a few days, and you will notice a complete removal of heartworm. It happens because the issue never becomes serious in the human body. It only becomes serious if it causes pain or discomfort, and you should see a physician.
Heartworm For Pets
For pet owners, the issue can be a big problem. If you don’t treat the issue on time, you will notice severe symptoms in your pet’s body. In extreme cases, your pet might even die from this infection. That is why you should see the physician as soon as you notice any symptoms. They have the following ways to diagnose the problem in pets-
- The first is a blood smear test in which they collect blood samples and observe them under a microscope. If the heartworm is present, the larval motion might happen, which is a confirmation of microfilaria of the heartworm in the body.
- The next is the Hematocrit tube method, in which the physician will fill a capillary tube with a sample and centrifuge it. It will separate leukocytes and platelets from RBCs. The physician will not add the buffy of coat leukocytes and platelets on the slide, add methylene blue and examine. It will help better examine the sample, and its success is more than a normal blood test.
- Once the physician confirms that roundworm is present in the blood, they have to check the severity. They do it by an X-ray in which they can see the pulmonary artery, right side of the heart, and pulmonary arteries in the lungs. The issue is severe if these body organs show enlargement and inflammation. The more the symptoms, the higher the severity. If the lungs also show inflammation, the case might lead to the pet’s death.
Before starting the treatment, the physician will check the health level of your pet’s body organs and the risk of treatment they are about to suggest. The FDA allows the following medication for the treatment of the issue in pets with the lowest possible side effects-
- The physician will suggest an Arsenic-based compound to those pets who have a higher amount of adult worms in their body.
- The physician can also suggest Melarsomine drug to pets with a moderate level of adult and higher number of immature worms.
- Some physicians also recommend using Ivermectin for pets in case of heartworm. A pet parent can also use a very low dose of Ivermectin (0.003 to0.006 mg/kg) once a month to prevent heartworm in pets.