Heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis ) are a type of parasitic worms that generally affect dogs. They are transmitted through mosquito bites. It’s very rare for a human to contract heartworms.
Dirofilaria immitis is a species of parasitic worm better known by pet owners as heartworms.
Heartworm larvae can grow into adult worms in your dog’s blood and block major blood vessels. If untreated, your dog may experienceTrusted Source organ conditions that can cause major harm or death.
Heartworms are rarelyTrusted Source transmitted from dogs to humans. In fact, only 81 cases of heartworm in humans were reported from 1941 to 2005. But it’s best to seek treatment for heartworms if you notice any symptoms in your pet or yourself.
What causes heartworms?
Both dogs and humans can get heartworm infections. But your dog can’t give it to you through their bodily fluids. Heartworms get into the bloodstream of both humans and dogs through mosquito bites.
Heartworms in the blood of an infected animal reproduce in the gut of the mosquito after a blood meal. Then, they get carried over to another host by the mosquito and are passed during feeding.
Heartworms first enter the bloodstream as undeveloped heartworms known as microfilariae, or heartworm larvae.
What happens next varies by species.
In animals, the larvae eventually mature into adult heartworms. They can then cause dirofilariasis, a full-blown infection that can cause blockage of major arteries or organ infections.
In humans, heartworm larvae never fully mature. As young heartworms die, your body reacts to their tissue with inflammation as it tries to destroy the heartworms. This condition is known as pulmonary dirofilariasis.
What are the symptoms of heartworms?
The symptoms of heartworm infections in animals and humans differ because of how they develop in the bloodstream. You may not always experience any symptoms because the heartworms will die before maturity in a human host …