Mosquitoes Carrying Dog Heartworms Found in Three Southern California Cities

The lab that tests mosquitoes, fleas and the like across the county for West Nile virus and other communicable diseases was recently able to add dog heartworm to its screenings and found mosquitoes carrying the potentially deadly parasite. in at least three towns in Orange County.

Mosquitoes have tested positive for dog heartworm in Fullerton, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, but not yet at levels that would prompt consideration of spraying or other measures to reduce the mosquito population, Heather Hyland said. Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District spokesperson. .

The department sent an alert on Wednesday, Jan. 19 regarding the positive canine heartworm sample; OC Animal Care recommends that pet owners consider monthly heartworm treatment, which may be prescribed by their veterinarian.

“The detection of heartworm-positive mosquitoes in dogs indicates that heartworm disease is active in Orange County,” said Amber Semrow, director of scientific and technical services for Vector Control. “Residents should be proactive in protecting their pets from mosquito bites and preventing mosquito breeding sources.”

Orange County has seen a growing invasion of the Aedes mosquito, nicknamed the ankle-biter because it is an aggressive bite during the day, and this particular species spreads heartworm parasites between dogs.

Baby heartworm larvae can take several months to mature into adults, so it may take a while to see symptoms in a dog, but the worms cause problems in the lungs, heart, and other organs that can be mortals.

In addition to preventative medications, Hyland said homeowners are encouraged to be vigilant about getting rid of standing water in which mosquitoes breed. Aedes are considered “barnyard breeders,” she said, because they can lay eggs in tiny containers with small amounts of water.

“Residents really need to take an active role in checking for standing water,” she said.

This is not yet the season when residents will see heavy mosquito action, they usually come out in numbers from April and with this species of Aedes they can now be seen as late as October, he said. she stated. And Aedes have now been found in every town in Orange County.

And that’s why the agency has started expanding its testing capabilities, Hyland said.

“We have started to open up our lab a bit more and try to test our mosquitoes for different types of diseases,” she said, adding that funding had been secured and processes had been refined to test the worm. heart of the dog last year.

The agency tests for mosquitoes, fleas and ticks, she said, but more importantly has “a very high capacity for testing mosquitoes because of West Nile virus and other viruses they can spread.” .

Bernard P. Love