Thanks to a record year in the tropics, mosquitoes are sticking around with full force – but not only we bite.
Our pets are also affected as veterinarians are seeing an increase in heartworm cases in dogs.
“We have mosquitoes down here all year round, and they bite all year round. They bite far more animals than humans, ”said Eric Jackson of Lee County Mosquito Control.
Several types of mosquitoes in southwest Florida carry the heartworm parasite.
“It’s very serious because of the high mosquito population. A lot of these dogs are outside / inside and I see mosquitoes in my house all the time, ”said Kristie Welsh, a veterinarian at the Cape Coral Animal Shelter.
“It’s extremely deadly, the heartworm can take over the heart and lungs,” said Liz McCauley, executive director of the Cape Coral Animal Shelter.
Although the recovery rate is very successful, the treatment could cost thousands.
Lee County Mosquito Control works 24/7 to kill mosquitoes.
“Our mission is to protect public health – that is our mission. It’s not just people, it’s your pets, ”said Jackson.
You can start heartworm prevention when dogs are only 8 weeks old. It’s very inexpensive – some preventive measures only cost a few dollars a month.
In South Florida, mosquitoes will continue to appear during the fall and winter months, meaning dogs need heartworm prevention year round. Lethargy or persistent cough can be signs of heartworm.
“If you go to a shelter and fall in love with a dog who is heartworm positive and is treated by your shelter – which most of us do, you are not excluding that dog. They will live long, happy, healthy lives once they get over the heartworm, ”said McCauley.