Can Pets Get the West Nile or Zika Virus?

The Zika Virus in People

Like WNV, Zika virus is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, but in this case, it’s primarily the Aedes species of mosquito. In people, the most common signs of infection include painful joints, fever, rash and eye inflammation. Signs are typically mild and may last for several days to a week. However, if a woman becomes infected while pregnant, the virus can cause a serious birth defect that impacts fetal brain development.

The Outlook for Pets

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), animals in the United States are not at risk of developing disease from the Zika virus. At this time, there’s no evidence that animals spread the Zika virus, and infected people do not appear to spread the virus to animals.

Currently, monkeys and apes apparently have the ability to become infected with the virus, but the signs tend to be mild and transient (i.e., lasting only a short time). A very limited study from the late 1970s showed that cows, horses, goats, water buffaloes, ducks and bats could become infected as well, but they did not develop disease or pose a risk for viral transmission to humans. Even so, additional research is needed to better understand how Zika virus affects animals.

Consult Your Veterinarian

Still concerned about the risk of these viruses to your pet? Then speak with your family veterinarian. Numerous veterinary products are available that can kill and/or repel mosquitoes, and your veterinarian can recommend one that’s right for your pet. In addition, you can help reduce your pet’s exposure to mosquitoes by making sure all window and door screens are intact and removing standing water from your yard.

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