The group announced the results of the 2019 AHS Heartworm Incidence Survey and unveiled its updated heartworm incidence map, drawn from the data of nearly 6,000 U.S. veterinary practices and shelters.
Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Alabama were identified as the locales with the greatest incidence, AHS says, adding that all five states have been in the top tier since the group started tracking data in 2001.
However, the survey shows a continued nationwide prevalence of heartworm, says AHS president, Chris Duke, DVM.
“When veterinarians compare the 2016 heartworm incidence map to the 2019 map, it’s clear the big picture hasn’t changed,” he says. “The Southeast remains a hotbed for heartworm infection, but states in the Northeast, Midwest, and West have continued to see many cases as well.”
Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and Oklahoma round out the top 10, AHS says. Texas and Tennessee fell out of the top five between 2016 and 2019, while Alabama and South Carolina moved up. Meanwhile, Florida dropped out of the top 10 altogether and was replaced by Oklahoma.
While the COVID-19 crisis may limit the ability of many practices to conduct routine patient health screenings, Dr. Duke stresses veterinarians should continue to administer heartworm preventatives.
“The need for heartworm prevention is more important than ever,” he says. “Prevention continues to be one of the most important recommendations veterinary practitioners can recommend for patient care, and avoiding gaps in year-round prevention is essential.”
To view the 2019 heartworm incidence map, click here.