Veterinary Health Alert on the Zika Virus from HCPHES (Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services)

Claws & Paws Veterinary Hospital® has received the following Veterinary Health Alert:

As of June 1, 2016, there have been 618 travel associated cases of Zika Virus reported to the CDC, with 40 cases in Texas (13 in Harris County). There have not been any locally-acquired vector-borne cases of the virus to date.

close up view of mosquito on human finger

Zika virus is a disease spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, specifically, the Aedes species mosquito (Aedes aegypti). These are the same mosquitoes that spread other viruses such as dengue and Chikungunya.

Zika and People

The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to be hospitalized, and death is rare. There is no vaccine to prevent or medication available to treat this virus. During pregnancy, Zika virus can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects, and Guillain-Barre’ Syndrome. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

Though it is primarily a mosquito-borne virus, spread of the virus through sexual contact has also been reported. If individuals have traveled to Zika-infected areas and suspect they have become infected with the virus, it is recommended they use safe-sex practices and notify their healthcare provider for further evaluation.

Zika and your Pets

At this time there is no evidence of Zika virus infection in companion animals such as dogs and cats. However, non-human primates are susceptible to infection. Infection in non-human primates consists of a febrile illness with little to no outward clinical signs.

Prevention is Key

Prevention of the mosquito bite is key to controlling mosquito transmitted disease. When in areas with Zika and other diseases spread by mosquitoes, take the following steps:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants as weather permits.
  • Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside your home. Empty or remove all containers that may hold water to prevent mosquito larvae from developing.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. Follow product instructions
  • It is not recommended to spray repellents or pesticides on animals and pets.
  • Repair and maintain window screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
  • Use mosquito netting over infant carriers, cribs and strollers.
  • For animal enclosures, utilize a fan to blow mosquitoes from the vicinity.

We will continue to update you as we learn updated information regarding the virus in both people and pets. For more information please visit the following sites:

Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services:

http://www.hcphes.org/zika

CDC:

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/

Courtesy of Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services