Earlier this month, Merial, a producer of animal health products based in Duluth, Georgia, stated that there has been a shortage of melarsomine — the active ingredient in immiticide, the only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of canine heartworm disease. The shortage is expected to last indefinitely.
Merial has notified veterinarians of the shortage earlier this month. The company is working with the FDA to find a new supplier, but said that could take weeks or months. Any requests for immiticide must be made directly to the company by the pet’s veterinarian.
Heartworm disease occurs when adult female heartworms release their young (called microfilaire)
Dogs who may have been recently infected may exhibit no signs of the disease, while heavily infected dogs may eventually show clinical signs, including a mild, persistent cough, reluctance to move or exercise, fatigue after only moderate exercise, reduced appetite and weight loss.
To check your pet for heartworm, bring it to a veterinarian who will test the animal before being prescribed a heartworm preventive. These preventives may include the form of a pill (ivermectin or milbemycin oxime), a topical liquid that can be applied onto the pet by the owner (selamectin or moxidectin) or an injectable (ProHeart 6), which is only used for dogs. For a dog, a test might be as simple as a blood test. The FDA emphasizes that these are preventive measures and are not to be considered as a replacement for treatment.
“Heartworm disease is very deadly for all types of pets — dogs, cats and ferrets,” said Aaron Vine, DVM, Practitioner of Veterinary Medicine, Central Veterinary Associates. “With the treatment of heartworm disease now out of production, there may not be a cure for quite some time, making routine prevention the only ‘cure’ for now or off-label medications, which are not as safe or effective.”
For more information or to make an appointment, call 1 (888) 4CVA-PET (428-2738) or visit www.centralvets.com.
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About Central Veterinary Associates, P.C.
Central Veterinary Associates, P.C. is a 24-hour, full-service hospital that provides optimal small animal medicine, including exotic medicine. The main hospital is located in Valley Stream, which provides 24-hour care at its state-of-the-