Frequently Asked Questions
What is Dirofilariasis?
Dirofilariasis is the occult disease caused by a filaria nematode from the genus Dirofilaria. In the USA this is commonly the species Dirofilaria immitis, and in Europe it is commonly the species Dirofilaria repens. This is the exact same disease in dogs often called by a common name Heartworm.
How does one get this disease?
The disease originates from a bite from an infected insect. While most books and Internet references say that only mosquitoes are the vector for this disease the reality is that both black flies and Tabinids carry this disease as well. In fact the Tabinid is known to carry more than an order of magnitude more L3 stage filaria than even the largest mosquito.
Why could my dog get treated but not me?
There is a basic difference between dogs and humans with this disease. When dogs get the disease the parasite will create lots of baby microfilaria which then circulate in their blood. This is easy to test for with even a simple microscope, and most veterinarians are trained for this. The circulating microfilaria does not generally happen in humans or Felines. Since there are no obvious symptoms and no easy way to diagnose the disease in humans it generally goes unrecognized until its too late. As far as we know nobody’s death has ever been attributed to this disease in the scientific literature.
As for treatment, the cure for dogs is a very toxic arsenic compound that your doctor would not be allowed to give to you. There is nothing better than a 40% success rate in humans, and even that drug has been removed from the market in the US. We have no good options for treatment.