When a Positive is a Negative

In the spring of 2014 I started scheduling all the dogs for their annual Heartworm check. I started with Maia.

I went in not expecting too much out of the ordinary.

Blood was drawn for the test and she was a good girl as usual.

Then the out of the ordinary happened…my vet said she was positive! My heart sunk, how could this happen!!

These results were from the new test that was developed that is highly sensitive. So the protocol now was to draw more blood and send it out to the lab to be tested with the old heart worm check test. My vet also did blood work to check for microfilaria (microscopic baby heartworms) in her bloodstream. I had to wait for these results for a few days as it is sent out to a lab. Thankfully both came back negative.

I immediately scheduled the rest of the dogs to get their checks and again my heart sank as the vet told me Cheyenne was positive. I just kept going over and over in my head how, why!?!

So more blood was drawn and sent in for Cheyenne and that came back negative.

All along neither girl presented with any clinical signs of heartworm.

I was instructed to continue with their monthly preventative and every six months I had to take the girls back in for blood work, they would run one on the new test and one on the old. The old always coming back negative and the new always positive. Since it was suspected this was an issue with the test I did not have to pay for any of the repeat testing.

So of course I started doing some research on my own to see if the tests could have a false positive and I found it could; as well as a false negative.

On our last visit this past January my vet informed me that they have now found the triggers that are causing the test to come back positive and know how to remove those so they can get an accurate reading. She believes this was a false positive all along for both dogs. It actually took two weeks to get the results but in fact both girls were negative all along.

So I am glad this is behind us and it turned out to be a false alarm. But honestly I will be very apprehensive from now on when I have to take them in for their annual heartworm checks. I am thankful I have such great vets that really go the extra mile to check things.

It is important to follow your veterinarians advise and do your annual heartworm checks especially if you are in a high incidence area. As you can see from this map there are very few places that have not had a case of heartworm reported which may be due to a lack of veterinary clinics. I am anxious to see what the 2015 map looks like.IncidenceMap2013_Page_1                               Photo from the American Heartworm Society website. 

We are in mid Michigan, as you can see there have been quite a bit of cases reported. As awful as this disease is thank goodness it is not transferred from one animal to another. For more information about heartworm visit the American Heartworm Society.