Drug-resistant strain of heartworms found in Metairie dog

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METAIRIE, La. — A Metairie yellow lab is believed to be the first pet in the United States to be infected by a new drug-resistant strain of heartworms.

According to a news release from veterinarian Dr. Cynthia Benbow’s office, Madie the lab contracted heartworms in 2014 while on monthly heartworm preventation. It was only recently, however, that the case was published in a veterinary journal, Parasites and Vectors.

Benbow’s office sent a blood sample to a veterinarian at the  Department of Infectious Diseases at University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine for further testing.

Dr. Ray Kaplan’s lab confirmed that the heartworms were, in fact, drug-resistant, Dr. Benbow’s office said.

The lab named the strain of heartworms “Metairie-2014.”

“It is crucial for pet owners to understand the importance of being on consistent, monthly heartworm prevention and a mosquito repellent” says Dr. Benbow. “Since this resistant strain was found in Metairie, the double-protection approach is the best way for owners to protect their pets from now on, no matter what time of the year.”

The new strain is helping researchers at UGA better understand and help solve the problem of drug-resistance in heartworms.

Both Benbow’s office and the state Department of Agriculture stress the importance of heartworm preventatives as well as a mosquito deterrent, since mosquitoes spread the disease from pet to pet.

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