By Sherry L. Granader
It is impossible to turn on the news or open a newspaper and not hear about the Zika virus. It is a virus spread to people through mosquito bites and common symptoms include joint pain, fever, rash, eye infection, such as conjunctivitis and headache. The Zika virus was first discovered in Africa in 1947, and for the last sixty years, it was thought to cause mild disease.
How Zika Is Spread
It is spread through the Aedes species mosquito that are quite aggressive biters in the daytime. In fact, they prefer to bite people as opposed to animals and live outdoors and indoors near people. Zika has spread to at least twenty-three countries and is causing concern for increased cases of microcephaly – a condition where babies suffer from incomplete brain development and abnormally small heads. It has also caused Guillain-Barre syndrome that causes temporary paralysis. Pregnant women should think twice before traveling to Caribbean countries and Latin America where cases of the Zika virus continue to rise.
Unlikely Dog Or Cat Will Be Affected
With all that said, it is highly unlikely that your dog or cat will be affected by the Zika virus, however, it is always a good idea to protect your pets from mosquitos. They can breed in numerous places around your home and only need one inch of standing water to survive. Remove standing water from flowerpots, any outdoor containers, tires, low-lying areas and rain gutters. Keep your grass cut short and bushes trimmed because mosquitos like to rest in tall grasses and shrubs. They also like moist, shady areas.
<Also Read: Why Pet Owners Should Fear The Mosquito>
The thought of using a chemical spray on yourself or your pet can be annoying. However, there is a natural repellent that is quite potent that is extracted from the leaves of lemon eucalyptus trees. Lemon eucalyptus is an essential oil and is very effective in repelling mosquitoes. It comes in spray form and liquid form making it easy to apply to both you and your pet before venturing outdoors.
The Zika virus will not likely affect your cat or dog, however it is wise to continue limiting breeding sites for mosquitoes and practice regular mosquito control around your home. Use heartworm preventative for your dog and use a natural repellent when necessary. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers current news and recommendations regarding the Zika virus so you and your pet(s) can stay safe.
Reviewed and approved by Dr. David L. Roberts, DVM