West Nile Virus and the risk it poses to pets

There is no evidence to support that cats and dogs can fall ill to the West Nile Virus

VICTORIA, Texas – With the continued rain and humidity, you can expect to still see mosquitoes around. Last week we reported that the West Nile Virus had been detected in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and one human case in Dallas. There have not been any new human cases since then but what about our furry friends at home, does the virus pose a risk to them? The short answer, no.

When it comes to getting a meal, a mosquito does not discriminate too much as far where it chooses to get some blood from, whether that be a human or your cute dog or cat back at home. While humans can get sick from the virus, there is no evidence to support that dogs or cats can get seriously sick from the virus. Doctor Sonja Swiger, a specialist in pest management for companion animals and public health has dealt with and studied the West Nile Virus for years.

“There’s no risk to them (dogs and cats). It’s been here since late 1999, early 2000’s it showed up in Texas but there’s never been any record of a dog or a cat coming down with West Nile Virus or having gotten ill from anything similar to it. So right now, it’s just horses and humans, and it can be fatal to both” said Swiger.

So if you happen to have a pet horse, there is a risk of them falling ill from the West Nile Virus, but more good news, there is a vaccine available to horses. Swiger said although there is a vaccine available to horses there isn’t actually one for humans.

However dogs and cats can still get heartworms via mosquitos, so any measures you can take to limit their exposure to mosquitoes the better. And before you go spraying your pets with mosquito repellent, make sure it’s safe for animals, because many of those bug repellents are intended only for humans.