Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that is spread by the Aedes mosquito. Common symptoms include fever, joint pains, rashes, headache, and conjunctivitis. This virus usually causes birth defects in newborns, resulting in them having abnormally small brains and heads.
However, the illness is mild, and about 80 per cent of those infected experience no symptoms at all. Of those affected, the symptoms only last for about four to seven days.
Can My Pets Get It?
There is currently no evidence to prove that our beloved pets can contract this virus, even though we are aware that the Zika virus was first believed to have passed from one species to another when it was spread from wild animals to humans in East Africa.
On April 18, 1947, a Rhesus monkey that had been placed in a cage on a tree platform in the Zika Forest of Uganda developed a fever. This was the first case of the Zika virus.
Even though we know Zika can affect humans and monkeys, there has yet to be any scientific evidence to prove that the virus can be spread to our furkids. However, it does not hurt to take some precautionary measures to ensure the safety of our pets and ourselves.
Firstly, do the five-step mozzie wipeout in your home to prevent the breeding of the Aedes mosquito. These pesky insects (identifiable by the distinctive black and white stripes on its body) love to breed in stagnant water, and will usually hang around pails or flower pots that have collected water over time.
Secondly, pet owners can purchase natural-based mosquito repellents for their furkids. The best kind to get would be those of a lemon eucalyptus oil base, as these contain about 85 per cent citronella (a fragrant and natural oil that repels mosquitos and other insects). Keep in mind not to use insect repellents that contain DEET as this is harmful to your pets.
Last but not least, dog owners should shorten the amount of time spent outside when taking Fido for a walk. Should your pooch require lots of exercises, indoor games like Tug Of War and Hide and Seek can be played instead to minimise exposure to nasty mosquitos!
*This article was updated on 11 Sept 2020. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com.sg on 7 Aug 2016.