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State improves heartworm diagnosis ranking, but still third-highest in U.S.

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — There’s good and bad news for Mississippi’s pets.

The good news is the Magnolia State has slightly improved its position in the battle against one of the deadliest diseases threatening dogs and cats. The bad news, according to the American Heartworm Society (AHS), which conducts a nationwide incidence survey every three years, Mississippi only dropped from second to third in AHS’ ranking for heartworm disease diagnosis.

The latest AHS survey is based on testing data from the 2013 calendar year. More than 4,500 veterinary practices and shelters in the nation participated, contributing data from an estimated 3.5 million patients. Results of the survey are being released to help pet owners better understand the threat of heartworm disease, both nationwide and in their area.

A state-by-state breakout of the findings shows that Mississippi came in third place behind Alabama and Louisiana, with Texas, Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Oklahoma filling out the remaining top 10 states. Three years ago, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas topped the list.

The American Heartworm Society bases their rankings on the average number of heartworm-positive dogs per clinic. During the 2013 calendar year, Mississippi veterinary practices reported an average of 73 heartworm-positive dogs per clinic, compared to 81 dogs per clinic in 2010.

“It’s encouraging to see steps being taken in the right direction,” said AHS president and veterinarian Stephen Jones, DVM. “At the same time, these numbers indicate that many Mississippi pet owners need to be more vigilant about heartworm prevention.”

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