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Your Pets and the West Nile Virus

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With concern growing over the spread of the West Nile virus, here are some guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help answer your questions in regards to pets.

  • Dogs and cats can be infected with the West Nile virus in the same manner as birds, horses and people: through the bite of an infected mosquito.
  • Although the West Nile virus has been identified in dogs and cats, infection with the virus does not appear to cause serious illness in these animals.
  • People cannot get the virus from their pets; no evidence of human-to-human or pet-to-human transmission has been found. Only an infected mosquito can transmit the virus. Infected pets are unlikely to transmit the virus back into the mosquito population.
  • It is unlikely that a pet could become infected with the West Nile virus by eating or playing with a dead infected bird.
  • Spot flea products are reportedly not effective at repelling or killing mosquitoes. However, flea sprays containing pyrethrins may have some value as repellants. Follow label directions carefully.
  • The most effective means of preventing infection with the West Nile virus is by elimination of mosquito breeding sites (areas of stagnant water) around your home and property.

Note: Never use insect repellent sprays intended for humans and containing DEET on your pets. These could be fatal for the animal.

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