The American Heartworm Society recently released an urgent guide to veterinarians about the lack of heartworm treatment availability.
What does this mean to dog owners and lovers like you and me? Crisis central. For rescue groups like Gulf Coast Cocker Spaniel Rescue, this is a nightmare.
So why is this happening and what can be done? The only drug approved in the treatment of heartworm, Immticide, is manufactured by Merial. Due to technical issues, the ability of Merial to produce a finished product is compromised. For affected dogs, this is a crisis.
Terry Humerickhouse, volunteer and foster dad to many cocker spaniels affected by heartworm, shared with Fidose of Reality, “The drug has a very short shelf life, so it’s not ordered until need and it cannot be kept long. No one has a stash.” He reported some vets are offering to share their vials of treatment, but once opened it must be used. Since the amount dispensed is based on dog weight, a typical cocker takes a vial and a half to treat.
Though Merck is saying the production halt is temporary, they have not yet defined temporary.
What can you do? Prevention, prevention, prevention. According to the AHS, “The disease develops when a pet becomes infected with parasites called Dirofilaria immitis that are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.” Their current recommendation is year-round protection.
I attended a seminar where a representative from the American Heartworm Society spoke. The prevention to keep this nasty and potentially fatal disease from affecting your pet is pivotal. Blood testing is required before beginning treatment, so please check with your dog’s veterinarian for the best course of prevention.
Learn more about heartworm by visiting The American Heartworm Society FAQ’s and for more info on how to treat please visit: