west nile virus and your pet cat or kitten

Can West Nile Virus
Affect Your Cat?

West Nile Virus And Your Cat

Dear Simba, The news talks a lot about West Nile Virus.
Should I be worried about my outdoor cat, Snowy?? Betty

Hi Betty, West Nile Virus (WNV) is a disease spread by mosquitoes According to the NIH, researchers believe WNV is spread when a mosquito bites a previously infected bird and then bites a person. Many people that are bitten by mosquitos that carry WNV although most do not know they have been exposed. Only a few people develop severe disease or even notice any symptoms. Cats and Dogs become infected when bitten by an infected mosquito. There is some evidence that cats can become infected with the virus after eating experimentally infected mice.

However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that only a relatively small number of WNV infected cats and dogs have been reported to CDC and of those only a few infected cats exhibited mild, nonspecific symptoms shortly after infection; for the most part only showing a slight fever and lethargy. The CDC maintains that it is unlikely that most pet owners would notice any unusual symptoms or behavior in cats or dogs that become infected with WNV.

How Do you Treat Cats with West Nile Virus

As of December 2016, there is no specific treatment for WNV infection. Any treatment would be targeted to managing symptoms and consistent with standard veterinary practices for animals infected with a viral agent. The CDC maintains that full recovery from the infection is likely.

Can a West Nile Virus-infected Cat infect my Family

The CDC maintains that there is no documented evidence of dog or cat-to-person transmission of West Nile virus. This is because cats and dogs do not develop enough virus in their bloodstream to infect more mosquitoes.

How Do I Protect My Cat From West Nile Virus

Noting that WNV presents only a limited risk and danger to your cat the best way protect your cat is to guard against mosquitoes This would involve keeping your cat indoors. As of now, there is no vaccine for WNV. Whatever you do, DO NOT use insect repellent on your cat. This is because Cats in particular may ingest pesticide residues on their coats by self-grooming.

Pesticide Danger to Cats

Perhaps the biggest danger associated with West Nile Virus is in the pesticides being sprayed to kill mosquistos. Tips to protect your cat:
  • Keep Your Cat (and other pets)indoors during spraying. Close all windows and doors and turn off air conditioning units as an extra safety precaution.
  • Thoroughly clean water and food bowls, toys and other pet items that may have been left outdoors and exposed to pesticides.
  • Carefully rinse your cat's paws and other body surfaces after possible contact with pesticide residue remaining on sidewalks or lawns after spraying.
  • Make sure that kittens and elderly cats or cats with compromised immune systems are not inadvertently exposed to pesticides.
  • Cover all fish ponds to prevent pesticides from entering the pond water.
Remember that mosquitos can bring on heartworm which is a far bigger risk to your cat than WNV.
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