Rep. Hwang, Fairfield Warde Student Push For Heartworm Awareness

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Fairfield state Rep. Tony Hwang (R-134) is supporting Fairfield Warde High School's Annie Blumenfeld and a bill to raise awareness of heartworm disease in dogs. 

Blumenfeld, a sophomore at Fairfield Warde, testified in support of the proposed bill to the Environment Committee of the General Assembly. An Act Concerning Awareness of Heartworm Disease and the Standard Dog Licensing Form would require the dog licensing form to contain a check-off box for the purpose of raising awareness that the dog receives heartworm preventative medication. 

“After learning about my rescue dog Teddy’s experience I was determined to spread awareness to pet owners about how they can avoid this disease so they do not have to go through with their dog what Teddy went through," Blumenfeld said. "It was an honor to work with Mr. Hwang as he shares my enthusiasm. After months of eagerly waiting for our public hearing it was exciting to firsthand witness the legislative process and it was a day I will always remember.”

Hwang stressed the need for vaccination reminders. 

“Currently, the dog license provides the owner with forms that have multiple check boxes as reminders for vaccinations such as rabies and various other reminders," said Hwang. "The proposal would include a check-off box on a dog license form about whether heartworm preventative is being considered. This will encourage people to consider using the medication if they aren’t already.

"The timing of this proposal will coincide with the upcoming license form re-design from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, which has not changed since 2007.” 

According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart of dogs, cats and other species of mammals, including wolves, foxes, ferrets, sea lions and (in rare instances) humans.

The disease is spread by mosquitoes that become infected with microfilariae while taking a blood meal from an infected dog. Within the mosquito, the microfilariae mature into the larval stage.

When the mosquito then bites another dog, cat, or susceptible animal, the larvae are deposited on the skin and migrate into the new host. For about two months the larvae migrate through the connective tissue, under the skin, then pass into the animal's venous blood stream and are quickly transported to the arteries of the lung. It takes six months for the larvae to mature into adult worms that begin producing offspring.

Adult heartworms can live for five to seven years in a dog.

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