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Posted on 08-24-2016

Should I worry about Zika Virus in my pets?

There has been a lot of buzz about Zika Virus recently. The virus is relatively new topic of concern around Central and South America and has been getting ever so close to home in the United States. As I write this, the CDC reports 1,400 Zika cases in the continental U.S. There have been 69 positive cases in Texas, all of which are considered “travel-acquired” at this time. All of this has led Zika to be a newly talked about issue in the U.S. but it is important to know that it is not a new disease.

Zika Virus was first identified in the Zika Forrest of Uganda in 1947. Until recently, it was generally considered an African disease that could cause mild flu-like symptoms in people. The larger scare at this time is the correlation that pregnant women could have babies with microcephaly. This is a birth defect that could lead to lasting developmental problems. There is not a lot if information about this but there is increasing reason to believe that the events are related.

As for our pets, there are still many unanswered questions. Many mosquito-vectored diseases can be isolated in different species. We have not identified lasting problems should pets be exposed. As for the concerns of microcephaly or birth defects in pregnant animals, we don’t have any cases to report. We do know that there is a similar vaccine in cattle, Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus, that can cause birth defects when mothers are infected prior to birth. If Zika becomes a larger threat in the U.S., we will no doubt have people working on the true risk factors.

At Firehouse Animal Health Center, we will stay on top of all of the current research and make sure that we can keep our patients informed and safe from the threats we find.  Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

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