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Zika Virus and Dogs: What Every Dog Owner Needs To Know

By Dr. Andrew Jones

dog mosquito

Zika virus is currently dominating the news headlines, and causing many people, including pet owners, much concern.

Here is what you need to know.

What is it?

Zika virus is spread to people via mosquito bites. Common symptoms of Zika virus infection include: fever, joint pain, rash, headache and conjunctivitis ( eye infection). The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is likely to be a few days to a week. The illness is usually mild, 80% of people experience no symptoms, and of those infected, they only have signs lasting 4-7 days..Severe disease requiring hospitalization is very uncommon.

Where is it from?

Zika virus was first found in Africa; Uganda in 1947. For the last 60 years it was only thought to cause mild disease. Even though it is spread by mosquito bites, the virus is estimated to only cause symptoms in one in four people.

How is it spread?

Aedes-aegypt1

The Zika virus is spread from people to people via the bite of an Aedes species mosquito.These are the white spotted day biting mosquitoes. These are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses. Mosquitoes usually lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases. They are aggressive daytime biters, prefer to bite people (as opposed to animals), and live indoors and outdoors near people.

Why all the concern?

The WHO said that the virus could cause between 3 and 4 million cases over the next year, though this estimate is a crude projection based on data from previous outbreaks of dengue, another virus related to Zika. Zika has already spread to at least 23 countries and territories (it also caused an outbreak on Chile’s Easter Island in 2014).

Brazilian doctors have noticed an alarming spike in cases of microcephaly; a condition where babies suffer from abnormally small heads and incomplete brain development. Some Zika-affected countries have also reported a surge in Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition that can cause temporary paralysis.

Actual Number of Cases

Experts agree that the reported size of the microcephaly increase so far is probably inflated, and this is confirmed with the latest figures from the Brazilian government. On 27 January, it said that of 4,180 suspected cases of microcephaly recorded since October, it has so far confirmed 270 and rejected 462 as false diagnoses.

Pregnant Women Should Be Cautious

Pregnant women are being urged to think twice before traveling to Latin American and Caribbean countries battling this rise in cases of microcephaly.

Specialists suggest that it is prudent for pregnant women to be cautious — for example, by protecting themselves against mosquito bites — until more is known.

Can dogs get Zika virus?

dog vet

We don’t know, but there is no current evidence at all.

Zika virus is believed to have first crossed the “species barrier” from wild animals to humans in East Africa. In April 18, 1947, fever developed in a rhesus monkey that had been placed in a cage on a tree platform in the Zika Forest of Uganda- this was the 1st case of the Zika virus. It was confirmed via the scientists then injecting the serum into mice. So we know it can affect people, monkeys and mice.

It is very unlikely that your dog will ever be affected by Zika virus.

How to best protect my dog?

You may not even want to worry as it appears to be a remote possibility that Zika is of any concern to your pets. If you live in a country without the specific Aedes species mosquito, (such as Canada or Chile), then there is no cause for concern.

Mosquito control

Mosquitoes are vectors for disease, namely heartworm in dogs, so mosquito control is always a wise choice.

Mosquitoes can breed in as little as one inch of standing water, which means there are numerous places around your house that allow them to survive. Remove standing water from tires, outdoor containers, low lying areas of your yard, flower pots, rain gutters that aren’t cleaned.

Cut the grass and trim the bushes

Mosquitoes like to rest in tall grass or shrubs in a moist and shady area. Keeping the grass short and raking up fallen leaves removes their resting places.

Most mosquitoes feed within a few hundred yards of where they were hatched, so it will help reduce the number of biting mosquitoes in your home.

A natural option to use a mosquito repellent is lemon eucalyptus oil.

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PMD from lemon eucalyptus (Corymbia citriodora) extract

Corymbia citriodora (Myrtaceae), also known as lemon eucalyptus, is a potent natural repellent extracted from the leaves of lemon eucalyptus trees. Lemon eucalyptus essential oil, comprising 85% citronellal, is used by cosmetic industries due to its fresh smell. However, it was discovered that the waste distillate remaining after hydro-distillation of the essential oil was far more effective at repelling mosquitoes than the essential oil itself. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3059459/

Final Thoughts

Stay up to date with current news and recommendations on Zika virus with the CDC updates here: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html

This is a ‘new’ disease in the Americas, there is little to no natural immunity, hence the rapid spread.

If you are pregnant, it is wise to be prudent in travelling to affected areas- stay up to date with suggestions from your health care provider, and the CDC here: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/index.html

It will likely never affect your dog, (or other animals), but it is still wise to practice regular mosquito control, especially limiting breeding sites of mosquitoes around your home.

Best Wishes,

Dr Andrew Jones

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Topics: Dog Health | 8 Comments »

8 Responses to “Zika Virus and Dogs: What Every Dog Owner Needs To Know”


  1. Anne-Marie Says:
    January 29th, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you for all your updates.

  2. María Says:
    January 29th, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Hello!!

    I am a follower from México and just stop by to say your information is very appreciated in my home, is an easy way to stay informed about interesting trend topics with an open point of view, so keep the nice work.

    Gracias

  3. Maria Sousa Says:
    January 29th, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    do I have to give heartworm to my dog?

  4. Dagmar Scherer Says:
    January 29th, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    I would be careful with an eucalyptus based oil as it is toxic to dogs and they can lick it, especially when you have more than 1 dog.

  5. Nicasio Martinez Says:
    February 1st, 2016 at 2:22 am

    To address the playing of the dengue and Aedes mosquito card, a favorite and much utilized vector insect in the never ended bio-weapon labs, dating as far back as the 1950s, cures for diseases in the dengue family, including ebola, are known. Do the research:

    Liberia: Sierra Leone Tells Nano Silver Success Story – allAfrica.com
    http://www.allafrica.com/stories/201410221007.htmlProxy  Highlight
    22 Oct 2014 … Liberia: Sierra Leone Tells Nano Silver Success Story. tweet … Alpha Kanu, recently wrote in a letter that “this works; people are getting better.

    Re:Papaya leaves for speedy rise of platelet count in Dengue … – BMJ
    http://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/11/03/repapaya-leaves…Proxy Highlight
    29 Jun 2002 … Sanath Hettige. Consultant Family Physician. Coordinator for MD in Family Medicine For the Post Graduate Institute Medicine University of …

    Using live grains, kefir water and kefir milk was brought to my attention by a fellow blogger. KW & KM are potent killers (suppressors)or viral diseases. Again do the research. I drink KW several times a day and have started my dog on probiotics too.

  6. Et Says:
    February 1st, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Should I start giving my dog heart worm pill.???

  7. LB Says:
    February 2nd, 2016 at 6:53 am

    Zika virus has been around since the late 1040’s, first discovered in a monkey. Zika virus is related to dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses.
    As of now in 2016, no vaccine or preventative drug is available.
    The more relevant question is whether animals can get sick from Zika virus exposure, and there’s also no evidence of that to date…it would be good to look into domestic animals, both their susceptibility of disease and potential roles as reservoirs.

  8. Ardith Says:
    April 28th, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Can Zika virus affect higher apes in zoos that are pregnant in areas this summer that are predicted to be Zika infested (East coast, mid-Atlantic States, etc.).

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