Don’t forget! Heartworm is a reportable disease
Veterinarians are well aware that infectious diseases can hitch a ride with rescue animals and traveling pets. Heartworm is among the diseases our veterinarians are concerned about as we’ve encountered several rescue dogs with heartworm recently as they come to Washington.
There are several reasons for the rise of heartworm seen in Washington:
- Animals relocating or traveling from places where the disease is endemic.
- Man-made mosquito habitats.
- New mosquito vectors.
- Wild reservoirs such as coyotes.
The possibility of heartworm gaining a strong foothold is a very real possibility. This is why heartworm is a reportable disease in Washington.
In order to keep heartworm at bay, we need greater awareness and cooperation from our private veterinary practitioners. One of the best ways to monitor the incidence of this disease is to ask veterinarians to report any positive heartworm cases to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) State Veterinarian’s office.
If a pet tests positive for Heartworm disease in my practice, how do I report it to the State Veterinarian’s Office?
Veterinary practitioners can go to the following link and fill out the “Veterinarian’s Monthly Reportable Disease Form.” This form can be sent to the State Veterinarian’s Office in the following ways:
- Mail a paper copy of the form to:
Washington State Department of Agriculture Animal Services Division
P.O. Box 42577, Olympia, Washington 98504-2577
- Fax the form to: (360) 902 – 2087
- Email a scanned copy of the form to: [email protected]
- Call in your report: (360) 902–1878 (WSDA’s Regulations and Permits Desk)
What documentation should I look for when rescue organizations bring animals from out of state into my practice?
Here are a few of the rules we enforce for consumer protection and animal health reasons—rules that rescue groups ignore at times but must follow:
- Dogs entering Washington need a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) that contains information specific to that animal; such as breed, age, sex, microchip number, vaccination status (including rabies), and statements regarding the overall health of the animal. Since a current rabies vaccination is required, the CVI may also be accompanied by an additional rabies certificate issued by the veterinarian. This contains a rabies tag number, lot and expiration date of the vaccine, and other important information.
- State law prohibits dogs from entry if they come from areas under quarantine for rabies. Of note: dogs less than three months old do not require a rabies vaccination.
- Dogs six months or older must test negative for heartworm prior to entry, or show evidence of current heartworm prevention medication.
- Cats entering Washington also need a certificate of veterinary inspection. They do not require heartworm testing. Cats less than three months old do not require a rabies vaccination.
Exemptions to these requirements are found in WAC 16-54-170, located on the WSDA Animal Health Program webpage: https://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/AnimalHealth/ under “Import Requirements.”
Where can I get information about other reportable diseases in Washington?
We encourage veterinarians to check out the WSDA – Animal Health Reportable Disease webpage for the latest updates.
WSDA field veterinarians throughout the state are available to answer questions. Their geographical locations and contact numbers may be found at the WSDA Animal Health Program webpage: https://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/AnimalHealth/.
The American Heartworm Society (https://www.heartwormsociety.org/) has additional information of interest.
By Drs. Dana Dobbs and Minden Buswell, Washington State Department of Agriculture
Posted January 26, 2018