Feline heartworm disease: a clinical review

Litster, Annette L. and Atwell, Richard B. (2008) Feline heartworm disease: a clinical review. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 10 2: 137-144. doi:10.1016/j.jfms.2007.09.007


Author Litster, Annette L.
Atwell, Richard B.
Title Feline heartworm disease: a clinical review
Journal name Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1098-612X
1532-2750
Publication date 2008-04
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jfms.2007.09.007
Open Access Status
Volume 10
Issue 2
Start page 137
End page 144
Total pages 8
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Sage
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Feline heartworm disease is caused by the filarial nematode Dirofilaria immitis, and is transmitted by mosquitoes in heartworm-endemic areas worldwide. While dogs are the definitive hosts for this parasite, cats can also be infected, and the overall prevalence in cats is between 5% and 10% of that in dogs in any given area. The spectrum of feline presentations varies from asymptomatic infections to chronic respiratory signs, sometimes accompanied by chronic vomiting to acute death with no premonitory signs. Ante-mortem diagnosis can be challenging and relies on a combination of tests, including antigen and antibody serology, thoracic radiography and echocardiography. As treatment with heartworm adulticidal drugs can be life-threatening and heartworm infection in cats is often self-limiting, infected cats are frequently managed with supportive treatment (corticosteroids, bronchodilators, and anti-emetics). Surgical removal of filariae using extraction devices may be considered in some acute cases where immediate curative treatment is necessary, but filarial breakage during the procedure may result in an acute fatal shock-like reaction. Necropsy findings are mainly pulmonary and include muscular hypertrophy of the pulmonary arteries and arterioles on histopathology. A number of safe and effective macrocytic lactone drugs are available for prophylaxis in cats. These drugs can kill a range of larval and adult life-cycle stage heartworms, which may be advantageous in cases of owner compliance failure or when heartworm infection status is undetermined at the time prophylaxis is commenced. An index of suspicion for feline heartworm disease is warranted in unprotected cats with respiratory signs, and perhaps chronic vomiting, in areas where canine heartworm disease is endemic. Many cats, once diagnosed and with appropriate supportive care and monitoring, will resolve their infection and be free of clinical signs.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Veterinary Science Publications
 
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