I've been given permission from Marina Zacharias to post the following information which appeared in a couple of her newsletters a few years ago. It can be cross-posted but she has stipulated that we acknowledge her as the author.
Heartworm - Medication Warning
You should be concerned with the ever increasing evidence that Ivermectin (the ingredient used in Heartguard) is causing several very drastic changes in dogs. Dr Jean Dodds, reported at the conference, that it has been linked to fertility problems, thyroid problems and auto-immune disorders. She urged us all to get off any form of medication containing this stuff. For heartworm she recommends using only the 'daily' form of medication as it is a totally different compound.
In the 'dirty tricks' department, I received a
fascinating insight into just how
insidious the big drug companies can be.
Dr Walter A McCall, also participating in the symposium. The subject of Heartguard did come up and he related his personal experience regarding how Merck Pharmaceutical (the manufacturer of Heart-guard) introduced this product to the veterinarian community.
During Dr McCall's vet. training, the incidence of heartworm was so little known, that the school did not have any "live" examples to use and had to rely on slide presentations. Consequently, when he went into practice, he had never actually seen a heartworm. He knew what they should look like, but prior to Merck's marketing efforts, he had simply no occasion in his practice to examine a live specimen.
When Heartguard was announced with a heavy
advertising campaign, Merck sent a
"test" kit for the detection of heartworm to every licensed
veterinarian in the
Efficient "test kit" you say? Not really. Turns out that sticking to the blank slides provided by Merck, there were tiny pieces of plastic that under normal microscope magnifications, looked identical to --- you guessed it ? HEARTWORM!! Only when the magnification was jacked way up could the
differences be seen.
As far as Dr McCall is concerned, he still questions the "high risk" area reports. He is aware of what seems to be a "pocket" located in the Sierra's, but so far has seen only one actual case in his practice, with a dog that had been brought in from the East coast of Florida.
I know in our own area (Pacific Northwest) we had no reports of heartworm for years. About two years ago, one case was confirmed and a major publicity campaign was mounted (newspaper, TV guide, radio, etc). suddenly most local vets were jumping on the "cash machine" with Heartguard as the
latest "must have" vaccine pumped into countless animals as a "precaution".
I've received many reports of low sperm count in males and fertility problems in females that magically disappeared within a few months after taking them off Heartguard.
The October 1994 issue of the Mastiff Reporter carried an interesting article on the subject by Carol S Bardwick (President of Canine Cryobank Inc). From 12 years of working/owning a reproductive specialty practice, she relates a variety of cases involving the deleterious effects of Heartguard and the return to normal within 60 days of stopping.
To quote her "I could go on and on. Scientists and Merck Pharmaceutical would say these incidents are only "anecdotal". So be it. However, I am still waiting for Merck to send me any long term repro-ductive studies on canines on Heartguard. Then I could share those studies with my clients. Unfortun-ately, Merck has only sent data on rats and mice. I asked if they had ever done any studies at all on Ivermectin and reproduction in the canine. "I'll get back to you" said the Merck veterinarian. That was in 1992, and I'm still waiting.
There is a homeopathic form of heartworm prevention that is safe and effective. More on this later.
(end of article)
Heartworm - Alternative Treatment
The standard treatment for heartworm (intravenous arsenic) hasn't changed much in the last half of this century.
Before I get into a recent development that shows great promise, I should mention that back in March 1993 an article in "Veterinary Forum" pointed out that studies from Cornell University and the Uni-versity of Pennsylvania indicated that when Ivermectir or Milbemycin were given to heartworm Posi- tive dogs at the regular preventive dose, progressive microfilaria suppression was demonstrated. After approximately seven to eight months, most dogs were free of circulating microfilaria.
Milbemycin appears to interfere with heartworm embryogeneses, and Ivermectin also has a suppressive effect on nematode reproduction. Thus the use of these drugs can be considered as an alternative modality for treatment.
Evidently this form of treatment is an "extra-label use" and an informed consent should be signed by an owner before embarking upon this course.
How many vets have ever mentioned this alternative?
Now for the exciting news!
An all-breed rescue club in Florida has been getting astounding results in treating heartworm cases with a homeopathic detoxsode for parasites called "Paratox". Please understand that these are "rescue" dogs that were in pretty sad condition when brought to them.
For example, there was a German Shepherd that was so infested with heartworm that the attending vet commented that it was the worst case he had ever seen without the dog being dead! In this particular case, they did a 5 day course of "Clearing" (another homeopathic remedy made by the same company) prior to the Paratox treatment. When the dog was rechecked in 6 weeks, the infestation was deemed to be "very light". They repeated the Paratox treatment and subsequent testing showed the dog to be "clear"!
So far, they have treated about 20 cases with 100% success! Evidently they can see a physical change in 2 weeks ? better color, more vitality, etc. Another nice thing about this method is that they don't have to restrict the animals during treatment.
The treatment is both gentle and simple, easy to administer and no side effects! In general, for dogs over 25 lbs, 5cc of Paratox is given orally, once a day for 24 days. One 40 oz bottle supplies a complete treatment. For smaller dogs, they have been using 2cc per day for 24 days. For giant breeds and severely compromised dogs they have been using double the usual daily dose(ie 10cc for 24 days).
What about cost? I'm not sure if you are aware that the standard "arsenic" treatment can run well over $1,000.00. The alternative of using Ivermectin or Milbemycin is suggested to be for people that suffer from a "thin wallet". I'm sure you all know the cost of these drugs.
Cost of one bottle of Paratox? Are you ready for this : $18.00!!