Drug-resistant heartworms found in Louisiana in 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 13, 2017



BATON ROUGE—Given the recent attention in the news surrounding Maddie and the Metairie-2014 strain of drug-resistant heartworms, the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine (LSU SVM) would like to highlight the previous and on-going work done by the LSU SVM, the University of Georgia, Auburn University and McGill University regarding this complex issue.


LSU began investigating the possible emergence of drug-resistant heartworms in 2008, following an increase in concern by local veterinarians. Around this same time, a Hurricane Katrina-relocation dog identified in Canada was suspected to be infected with drug-resistant heartworms. Over the next seven years, multiple dogs were found to be infected with drug-resistant heartworms, and LSU was one of the first to prove the existence of these drug-resistant strains circulating in Louisiana.


These dogs were identified in 2011 from Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Maggie and the Metairie-2014 strain is just one of the nearly dozen laboratory-verified drug-resistant heartworm strains that have been identified, thanks to the hard work and collaboration between veterinarians like Dr. Cynthia Benbow and researchers at LSU, UGA, Auburn, and McGill University.


These drug-resistant strains are very rare, and dogs should continue to receive year-round heartworm prevention, along with biannual or yearly heartworm testing. Owners should also speak to their veterinarians about steps they can take to minimize mosquito exposure for their pets, as heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. Fortunately, if a dog does become infected with heartworms, treatment is available, and there are no indications of heartworms being resistant to the drugs used for this purpose.


If a pet owner or veterinarian is concerned about drug-resistant heartworms or has any additional questions, researchers at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine (Dr. Cassan Pulaski, cpulaski@vetmail.lsu.edu) or the Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (225-578-9777) would be happy to discuss and provide additional information.


The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is one of only 30 veterinary schools in the U.S. and the only one in Louisiana. The LSU SVM is dedicated to improving the lives of people and animals through education, research and service. We teach. We heal. We discover. We protect.