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Dirofilariasis is a disease caused by the Dirofilaria worm that is spread to humans through the bite of an infected* mosquito. One form of this disease in dogs is also known as “heartworm disease”.


How can I get sick? 

  • Through a mosquito bite. Mosquitos get the parasite* from biting certain animals such as pet dogs, wolves, foxes, and raccoons that already have the parasite*. The infected* mosquito will then spread dirofilariasis to humans when they bite them. 

Symptoms in humans: 

Main symptoms include: 

  • Cough, sometimes coughing up blood 
  • Chest pain 
  • Fever (when your body gets a little hotter than normal) 

What can I do to stay healthy? 

Before you go outside 

  • Know where ticks live! 
    • Ticks live in grassy, bushy, or wooded areas. They also live on animals.  
      • When hiking or walking outside, try to stay on trails.  
      • While hunting or trapping, use gloves when touching an animal or harvesting an animal*. 
  • Hunting, camping, hiking, gardening, or playing outside can bring you close to ticks.  
  • Treat your clothes, gear (boots, tents, backpacks or camping gear), or any outdoor equipment with insect repellent* 
  • Wear long pants, long sleeves, and long socks when outside.   
  • Use insect repellents* while hiking, camping, hunting, or being outside. Ask an adult to help you with insect repellent* 

Before you come inside after being outside 

  • Check your clothes, pets, and gear (backpacks, shoes, tents) for ticks before going inside.  
  • If you have a tick on you, ask for help to have it removed.   
  • Shower soon after being outside to wash off ticks and do a tick check.  
  • Check your body for ticks after being outside. Check under your arms, in and around your ears, inside belly button, back of your knees, in and around your hair, between the legs, and around your waist.  



  • Infected: When germs get inside of a body, animal, or an organism.  
  • Parasite: A parasite is an organism that lives on or inside another organism, called a host. Parasites can cause diseases in humans or animals.  
  • Harvesting animals: The process of removing an animal to be used for meat or fur. 
  • Insect repellent: Product applied to skin, clothing or surfaces to keep insects away.  


Species Affected

Learn About Other Diseases

Click below to learn more about the many different diseases that can spread between animals and humans.