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Heartworm disease is transmitted to an animal through the bite of a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae, which eventually settle into the blood vessels of the lungs or within the heart itself.
Although cats are less susceptible than dogs to heartworm infection, our feline friends are still very much at risk of heartworm disease.
“Cats have some innate resistance to infection, and the worms seem to prefer living in dogs rather than in cats,” said Dr. Audrey Cook, an associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “In addition, the tests we traditionally use in dogs, such as the Knotts test and heartworm antigen tests, are not very sensitive in cats as the number of worms is much lower.”
Cook explains that though more sensitive tests are now available, cats are still not routinely screened for infection. It is highly likely that many cats are infected, but are simply not identified.
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