If you're not a pet owner, you may not know anything about heartworms in pets. If you are, you should know how serious it can be.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) is out with a new study that takes a look at reports of positive heartworm tests on pets throughout the country. They went through state-by-state to see which areas of the country were on the upswing, and it turns out Rockford is definitely one of those spots. In fact, we have the second-highest monthly percentage increase in the United States. Sioux Falls, South Dakota is number one.

First off, for those who aren't quite clear on heartworms and the problems they cause, here's a quick primer from Pets.WebMd.com:

  • Heartworms in dogs are easy to prevent, but difficult and costly to cure.
  • Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog's health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone.
  • Dogs can only get heartworms through the bite of an infected mosquito.
  • Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states. And the bite of just one mosquito infected with the heartworm larvae will give your dog heartworm disease.
  • If you have mosquitoes and you have animals, you’re going to have heartworms. It’s just that simple.
  • It takes about seven months, once a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. They then lodge in the heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels and begin reproducing. Adult worms can grow up to 12 inches in length, can live 5-7 years, and a dog can have as many as 250 worms in its system.
  • It can only be passed on by mosquitoes. It’s a specific parasite that only affects dogs and cats and ferrets and other mammals. In rare cases, heartworms have infected people, but it does not complete its life cycle.

CAPC's Top 5 Cities With The Highest Monthly Increase In Positive Heartworm Tests:

1. Sioux Falls, SD
2. Rockford, IL
3. Cedar Rapids, IA
4. Anaheim, CA
5. Akron, OH