What do I need to know about Zika Virus and my pet? 4 Facts About Zika Virus
Last summer I was in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Along with enduring the heat and carrying around what felt like a bowling ball in my belly, my mind was consumed with worry about the trending Zika Virus threat. As if pregnant women need another thing to worry about! It seemed like every time I turned on the TV or opened up my Facebook feed there was another reported case of Zika Virus or a baby born with Zika related birth defects. I spent the summer terrified of mosquitoes. I was doing anything and everything to steer clear of the pesky flies. Thankfully my son was born healthy but the risk is still out there!
We know Zika virus has a major impact in human health, but what about our animal friends? There is still a lot that is unknown about how Zika impacts our companion animals, but here are the facts:
States & U.S. Territories Reporting Zika Virus Disease in human beings:
Zika virus is here in the USA.
Did you know there have been more than 5,000 confirmed cases of Zika virus in humans in the United States?
Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes.
Primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that also transmits Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever; however, any mosquito that bites a person infected with Zika virus can transmit the virus to another person through their bite.
People and animals can have the Zika virus in their blood without showing signs of illness.
More research needs to be done in this area; however, we do know the virus can exist in our bodies and the bodies of other animals. Typically human beings show no (or very little) signs of illness and so far it looks like our companion animals do not suffer illness from the virus.
There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus in humans and animals.
The only way to prevent transmission is to prevent mosquito bites. The CDC recommends we use an EPA-registered (Environmental Protection Agency) repellant. However, such chemicals (ex: DEET) CANNOT be used on our pets which is why it is so important to use a topical prevention dispensed by a licensed veterinarian that has the ability to repel mosquitoes.
I have started using Provecta Advanced topical on my three dogs. It works to prevent fleas and ticks and repel mosquitoes. Ask your veterinarian for more information!
– Leigh Hofmeister, DVM