lives primarily in the right ventricle of its hostís heart. Since it
feeds on its hosts blood, the heard and blood vessels are ideal places
for the heartworm to live. Bacteria and occasionally other parasites
live in this same habitat. The microfilaria of Dirofilaria immitis
also spends the first couple molting periods inside of a mosquito.
On a geographic level,
Dirofilaria immitis occurs all over the world. Basically, wherever
mosquitoes live Dirofilaria immits also has a presence.
Mosquitoes thrive in warm and wet conditions, therefore tropical
countries and regions that are closer to the equator have a greater
presence of Dirofilaria immitis. It is also important to look at
the prevalence of the parasitic worm from an economical standpoint.
Third world and other developing countries are not able to medicate
hostís invaded with this parasite because the medication is expensive
and there are not very man veterinarians to administer the medications.
It would be very helpful if there
was some way to predict the climate in a certain area and then make
predictions about the prevalence of Dirofilaria immitis in that
particular region. According to Vazzani and Carbajo, the help is
already available. Geographic information systems (GIS) can predict
disease occurrence based on climate or environmental characteristics of
a particular area. They can use these predictions so compare them to
the climate or environmental requirements of a certain species. These
predictions are useful in disease mapping and prevention (Vezzani 2006).
Above: A table
showing the incidence of Heartworm disease in the U.S. in 2005. It
is hard to see the writing, but the dark colors indicate a greater
average number of cases reported per clinic in that particular region.