Stolley Park
Veterinary Hospital

3020 W. Stolley Park Road  Grand Island, Nebraska  68801  
Phone:  308-384-6272   Fax:  308-384-0984

March Newsletter
Wolbachia

It’s springtime again! Along with all the good that spring brings, we also need to think about protecting our pets from certain springtime visitors, including heartworms. This means that if you don’t have your dog on the recommended year-round heartworm protection, it’s time to start.

We’ve discussed heartworm disease before, and for more information please see our June 2010 and April 2012 newsletters. However, in honor of yet another imminent heartworm season, this month we’re going to get a little more in-depth and discuss a lesser-known aspect to heartworm disease.
Did you know that there are bacteria, known as Wolbachia, that can be found in inside the heartworm parasite? It is not known exactly what role they play in heartworm disease in a dog, but treating them with doxycycline at the same time as adult heartworms are killed with a product called Immiticide may make the process more effective and less dangerous. There are two reasons for this theory.
#1 It is believed that killing Wolbachia may sterilize the adult female heartworm (preventing further reproduction).
#2 Some believe that these bacteria may also play a role in the embolism formation that occurs when heartworms die during treatment. This means that concurrent Wolbachia treatment may also reduce the risk of sudden death of the pet.

This is good news on the heartworm treatment front. While it is still best to prevent rather than treat heartworm due to cost and possible complications, the treatment might be made a little easier on your pet if necessary with a simple antibiotic.

To learn more, visit heartwormsociety.org or our other heartworm related newsletters.

And Happy Spring!