West Nile Virus and Pets
Dogs and cats can become infected the same way a human becomes infected – by the bite of an infected mosquito, which is said to contract the virus from a dead bird.
A New York City Department of Health study in Queens, conducted in 1999, revealed that 5 percent to 11 percent of dogs tested had been exposed to West Nile virus. None of them were critically ill, however.
Some infected cats may exhibit mild symptoms during the first week after infection – running a slight fever and or showing signs of lethargy, according to the CDC.
Dogs and cats cannot transmit the virus between one another, or to humans. If they become infected, however, it could serve as a strong indicator that mosquitoes carrying the virus are in the area and that you should take special precaution when going outside.
While there is a vaccine against the virus for horses, which may be more susceptible to the virus, there is not one for dogs and cats.
Owners however, should not consider trying out their top-of-the-line bug spray on their pets – especially on their cats – if the products contain the chemical DEET, cautions Aspros.
Insect repellant containing DEET can lead to vomiting and even neurological problems in animals. Pet owners should make sure to use pet-friendly insect repellant on their pets — or on themselves if their pets might be in close contact with their skin. If pesticides are sprayed in the area, owners should also be sure to keep pets indoors during that time period.
Owners who are concerned about their animals contracting the West Nile Virus can take simple precautions like keeping pets indoors during early morning and evening hours to reduce the risk of mosquito bites.
Have you heard of West Nile reports in your area? How do you protect your pet against bug bites? Tell us below!
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