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West Nile Virus and Dogs and Cats FAQs

1.  Can West Nile Virus cause illness in dogs or cats?

There is a published report of West Nile Virus isolated from a dog in southern Africa (Botswana) in 1982. West Nile Virus has been isolated from several dead cats in 1999 and 2000. A serosurvey of dogs and cats in the epidemic area showed a low infection rate.

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2.  Can infected dogs or cats be carriers (i.e., reservoirs) for West Nile Virus and transmit the virus to humans?

West Nile Virus is transmitted by infectious mosquitoes. There is no documented evidence of person-to-person, animal-to-animal, or animal-to-person transmission of West Nile Virus. Veterinarians should take normal infection control precautions when caring for an animal suspected to have this or any viral infection.

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3.  How do dogs or cats become infected with West Nile Virus?

The same way humans become infected — by the bite of infectious mosquitoes. The virus is located in the mosquito's salivary glands. During blood feeding, the virus then multiplies and may cause illness. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which may circulate the virus in their blood for a few days. It is possible that dogs and cats could become infected by eating dead infected animals such as birds, but this is unproven.

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4.  an a dog or cat infected with West Nile Virus infect other dogs or cats?

No. there is no documented evidence that West Nile Virus is transmitted from animal to animal.

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5.  How long can a dog or cat be infected with West Nile Virus?

The answer is not known at this time.

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6.  Should a dog or cat infected with West Nile Virus be destroyed? What is the treatment for an animal infected with West Nile Virus?

No. There is no reason to destroy an animal just because it has been infected with West Nile Virus. Full recovery from the infection is likely. Treatment would be supportive and consistent with standard veterinary practices for animals infected with a viral agent.

(Information on this page obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

For West Nile Virus information updates call toll free: 877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473)

Centers for Disease Control information on West Nile Virus

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