It takes just one bite of an infected mosquito for the heartworm parasite (Dirofilaria immiti) to travel through your pet’s bloodstream and cause a deadly parasitic infection in your pet’s heart.
- An uninfected mosquito bites a heartworm-positive animal and ingests heartworm larvae (microfilariae) along with their blood.
- These larvae can take 10 to 28 days to develop inside of the mosquito.
- Once the larvae reach their infective stage, the mosquito can pass these deadly larvae into the bloodstream of any uninfected dog or cat that they bite.
- After just one bite from an infective mosquito, the microfilariae begin to migrate through the bloodstream into the animal’s heart.
- It can take 2-4 months before they reach the heart or lungs, and an additional 2 months for them to develop into adult heartworms.
- Within 6-7 months after the initial infection, adult female heartworms begin to shed microfilaria into the pet’s bloodstream – and the cycle starts again.