Deep within the lungs of cats, dogs, and a wide range of mammals lies the root of a worldwide clinical problem – heartworm. While diagnosis, preventatives, and awareness have increased worldwide, the potentially fatal infection continues to plague many pets around the world.
In Grenada, DVM student ,Sylke Lohmann, set out to research the treatment, prevention, and awareness of canine heartworms as a zoonotic disease on the tropical island. The resulting paper, which revealed that many people are unaware of canine heartworm prevalence and its ability to be transmitted to humans, was published in a recent edition of the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science (JAAWS).
Launching the research project and with funding from St. George’s University, Ms. Lohmann collaborated with the Grenadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA) to develop an educational brochure that outlined the lifecycle of heartworms, symptoms, prevention, treatment, and its pervasiveness in Grenada. The brochure served as the basis for her JAAWS report.
“The objective of my research and the brochure were to provide tangible information for GSPCA clients on how to better care for their animals, and stay safe while doing so,” Ms. Lohmann said. “It is one thing to have your veterinarian say the information to you, and another to have the information readily available.”
Originally from Canada, Ms. Lohmann remarked that having her paper published exceeds this initial objective, and may attract some additional help to assist the GSPCA in its strides to reduce the prevalence of heartworm cases, as well as other parasitic diseases.
“Sylke’s project has really opened our eyes to what is needed to emphasize awareness and prevention of canine heartworm in Grenada, and I hope for continued research collaboration between St. George’s University and GSPCA,” stated Dr. Kathryn Gibson, research mentor and Associate Professor within the School of Veterinary Medicine. “This project and resulting manuscript will also be of tremendous benefit to Sylke in her future veterinary career, whether or not she chooses research as her primary line of work.”
Ms. Lohmann earned her Bachelor of Science degree in natural sciences from the University of Calgary, and is interested in small animals, horses, and exotics. She hopes to work in a general practice, and upon completing the DVM program at SGU plans to complete her clinical year in Georgia or Tennessee. While this was her first time doing research, she is open to making it a part of her veterinary career.