Are cats and dogs able to contract the Zika or West Nile viruses? if so, what symptoms do they show?

Asked by Erin

1 Answer

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Let’s look at Zika virus first. Most of the research into this virus relates to infection in humans and non-human primates. There has been no evidence that dogs and cats can be infected with the virus. There’s also no indication that they can get sick from the virus, or pass it on to mosquitos to infect another person or animal. So, with the current understanding of the disease, while scientists can’t say with 100% confidence that it’s not possible for dogs and cats to be infected, they haven’t seen it happen.

West Nile Virus is a different kettle of fish. Research shows that dogs can be infected with West Nile Virus by bites from infected mosquitos and they produce antibodies to the virus, however they don’t show any signs of illness. Cats can be infected the same way and they developed a mild illness with fever and lethargy. Interestingly, cats can also be infected by eating a rodent that’s carrying the virus but under these circumstances, the cats didn’t become unwell. So, yes, dogs and cats can be infected with West Nile Virus, it causes mild symptoms of general malaise in cats, and none in dogs. It’s also thought that infected dogs and cats aren’t likely to be a reservoir of infection to spread the virus to mosquitos.

Neither of these viruses are a huge risk to our pets. It’s important to remember that depending where you live, mosquitos will spread heartworm disease and this is a much greater health threat for them.
| 08.16.16 @ 07:39
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$commenter.renderDisplayableName() — {comment} | 08.17.17 @ 13:47
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