As a concerned pet parent, you've no doubt been keeping an eye on the unfolding drama of the Zika virus. With cases reported as close to home as Florida, many people have been wondering about the effects on our pets, and whether there's any risk of the virus being transmitted between pet parents and their furry companions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been working tirelessly to provide answers to the questions that Zika is raising, and we'd like to share some of those with you.
Is The Zika Virus a Risk to My Pet?
According to the CDC, there have been no confirmed cases of the Zika virus in pets – in America or elsewhere. Our understanding of the virus is improving each day, however, further research is required so that we may better understand its threat to our pets. We simply can't say for sure that the virus can't mutate to affect pets, as there have been instances of antibodies and outbreaks among nonhuman primates in other countries around the world.
Could My Pet Play Host to The Zika Virus?
There have been concerns that our pets, if bitten by mosquitos carrying the Zika virus, could act as "reservoir" hosts and transmit the virus to us. Reservoir hosts would show no symptoms of the virus themselves, but can infect pet parents unwittingly via various forms of contact. According to the CDC, and Dr. Maureen Long, an associate professor working in the department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, this is unlikely: "To our knowledge, the only species that develop a very high viral load of Zika in their blood are humans and nonhuman primates."
If you have any concerns regarding the Zika virus and its threat to your family pet, please do speak to your veterinarian. They will be able to put your mind at ease, and talk through your options when it comes to preventative measures and mosquito repellants. To date, there is no evidence to suggest that the virus could be passed to humans by pets that have been exposed to the virus, though no test to confirm or deny the presence of the virus in pets currently exists. If you would like more information about the Zika virus, visit the CDC's website.
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