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Veterinary Student Scholar Digs for Data on Heartworm Disease

By Heather Grimshaw

After fielding questions from friends about heartworm prevention—such as whether it is needed in Colorado—and hearing debates about the need for regular heartworm testing, Lauren Kloer set out to find answers. A fourth-year veterinary student at Colorado State University, Kloer submitted a research proposal to Morris Animal Foundation in 2007 and was selected as a Veterinary Student Scholar. Her work, which revealed interesting statistics about feline heartworm disease, was presented at a National Institutes of Health (NIH) conference and lends support to the recommendation for prevention. “The results of the cat heartworm tests frequently surprised my audiences,” Kloer said of her NIH poster presentation. “There is more heartworm disease affecting cats in northern Colorado than we were previously aware of.”

In addition to surprising results—including the fact that five cats tested positive for heartworm disease in an area not known to have a strong prevalence—Kloer’s research illustrated a strong correlation between good research and healthy pets.

“Research is important to private practitioners because it allows them to continue to offer all available treatment or testing options to their clients,” she said. “It is important to become actively involved in linical research. There is much to be learned from the large populations of animals that are seen only by private practitioners.”

Once Kloer has her own veterinary practice, she will give her clients recommendations for heartworm prevention and testing that are based on disease prevalence in the area. She added that the American heartworm Society (AHS) recommends year-round prevention and regular testing. She also noted that while Colorado is not considered a hotbed for heartworm disease,
two dogs and five cats tested positive in her small sampling of 294 cats and 321 dogs.

“I would be sure to refer my clients to the AHS client handouts and inform them of any heartworm prevalence studies of the area so together we can make the best decisions regarding protection,” said Kloer, who knew she wanted to be a veterinarian when she was in junior high school. Since then she has volunteered at shelters and veterinary clinics and with the Rural Area Veterinary Services group on a regular basis.

Learn more about the Veterinary Student Scholars Program.

MAF E-news January 2009

Posted by MAFon November 12, 2009.

Categories: Animal health, Veterinary students


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