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The prevalence of infection with canine heartworm (CHW), Dirofilaria immitis, continues to increase across the United States, regardless of the availability of effective and affordable prophylactic products. Current reports of CHW prevalence as estimated by the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) are thought to under-represent the true magnitude of the issue because pet dogs that do not receive regular veterinary care are often excluded. This study estimated the prevalence of CHW in pet dogs and associated prophylaxis use in pet dogs in the Cumberland Gap Region with a combined doorstep diagnostic testing approach and caretaker survey. Dogs tested (n = 258) during the summers of 2018 and 2019 revealed a 2.3% (6/258) prevalence in the pet dog population with 33% (2/6) being microfilaremic. Questionnaire data from caretaker interviews revealed that 41.8% (108/258) of the dogs were not receiving CHW prophylaxis. Significant predictors of CHW prophylaxis use identified through logistic regression included pet caretaker awareness of CHW as an important health issue and the use of veterinary services in the year preceding participation in the survey. These results underscore the importance of veterinary-mediated client interaction to create risk awareness of CHW disease and association with prophylaxis compliance.


Paper previously published in Journal of Parasitology,