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American Heartworm Society, Merial produce new survey

Article

ORLANDO - 01/09/06 - A partnership forged between Merial and the American Heartworm Society produced a survey revealing more than 250,000 dogs and cats tested positive for heartworm infection nationwide in 2004, a rise in cases since the most recent survey in 2001.

ORLANDO - 01/09/06 - A partnership forged between Merial and the American Heartworm Society (AHS) produced a survey revealing more than 250,000 dogs and cats tested positive for heartworm infection nationwide in 2004, a rise in cases since the most recent survey in 2001.

"Considering lack of compliance and animals that do not receive regular veterinary exams, the number could be more than double what the survey projects," says AHS President Dr. Tom Nelson.

The 12,000 veterinary clinics surveyed in 50 states and the District of Columbia showed a continued need for educating clients and veterinary staff about the importance of preventing the potentially fatal disease.

According to a Gallup survey and B&R Tracking, about 59 percent of dogs in the United States are receiving heartworm preventative, a statistic down from 66 percent in a 1998 survey."Clients say they do not want heartworm preventative in part because they are conditioned to pursue vaccines for pets and may not understand the vital role heartworm preventative plays in their healthcare," Nelson adds.

Dr. Zack Mills, executive director of Merial Veterinary Services, says proper education is crucial to stem the incidences of heartworm.

"Technicians and receptionists often become flustered that clients are unreceptive to their encouragement to provide heartworm preventative for their pet," Nelson says. "But really by the time the veterinarian makes the recommendation, it is the third time the client has been introduced to the idea. That is why it is important to instruct and educate staff why preventative is imperative."

AHS is trying to introduce the idea at an early age; its Web site includes a children's section complete with coloring pages.

"Educating children is key in reducing the disease as potential future pet owners," Nelson says.

For more information, visit www.heartwormsociety.org.

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