The Zika virus has been making headlines for its impact on human beings. You may be wondering if your pets can also get this mosquito-borne virus.
What is the Zika virus?
The Zika virus is named after the Ugandan forest where it was first discovered in 1947. At the time of its discovery, scientists were researching yellow fever in primates when they chanced upon the Zika virus. Five years later, the first human cases of Zika were diagnosed and since then, outbreaks have been reported around the world. The past five years have seen a spike in the number of Zika cases reported in North and South America.
Most people who are infected with the Zika virus won't even be aware of it because they aren't experiencing any symptoms. However, common symptoms of a Zika infection include:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Red eyes
Typically, the illness from Zika is mild, and symptoms only last for a week at the most. It's very rare for anyone to die from the virus, and once a person's been infected, he or she will most likely be immune from future infections. The Zika virus poses the greatest threat to pregnant women and their developing fetuses because it can cause microcephaly, a serious birth defect of the brain.
The virus typically stays in the blood of an infected person for roughly one week. During this time, the disease can be transmitted from that person to another via mosquito bite.
What about your pet?
Research has shown that primates can indeed become infected with the Zika virus, but the impact on them is mild. Additionally, a study conducted in Indonesia in the 1970s showed limited evidence that animals such as horses, cows, goats and ducks could become infected with the Zika virus, but there was no evidence found that they developed the disease or could transmit it to humans.
The CDC states that more research is needed to get a better understanding of the Zika virus in animals. However, they clearly state that pets and other animals in the United States aren't at risk of getting ill from the Zika virus. There haven't been any reports of animals becoming sick from the Zika virus, or of their offspring developing Zika-related microcephaly. There's also no evidence that animals can spread the Zika virus to humans.
To minimize the risk of getting the Zika virus, keep down the number of mosquitos on your property by removing any standing water from flower pots, buckets and other sources. That preventative measure can also help protect your pet from other mosquito-borne infections, such as heartworm disease.
For more information, contact a center like Covington Veterinary Hospital PC.