zika-virus-and-your-petThe fast-spreading Zika Virus has been all over the news in recent months as new studies and reports share scary information about the effect the disease can have on pregnant women and children. But what about when it comes to pets? Are your favorite animals safe from this crippling disease? Here are four things to know to keep your furry friends safe from Zika:

Much about the Zika Virus is unknown.

Because Zika is in such early stages of spreading, much is still being researched, especially when it comes to the effects on pets. Zika was first discovered more than 70 years ago but only began to seriously spread recently, which means it could be years before we truly have answers to questions about the disease, including how it affects pets.

Pets may be at risk.

Zika is primarily spread through bites from two types of mosquitos; the first variety only bites humans, but the second type of mosquito has been known to bite animals, especially dogs. However, only about 20% of measured bites from the mosquito were in dogs, which means that although there is a risk animals could be bit by a mosquito, they aren’t being specifically targeted. There are also some suggestions that Zika can be transmitted through sexual contact or through rodents, but that has yet to be proven scientifically.

Not everyone gets Zika.

There seems to be a lot of panic around Zika because it has spread so quickly and can have such terrible effects, but in reality, 80% of people who are stung don’t develop significant symptoms, which can include fever, rash, and muscle aches. It isn’t known if that percentage is the same for animals, but chances are pets have a similar chance of contracting the virus if they are stung.

The best way to keep pets safe is to control mosquitos. Although there haven’t been any reported cases of Zika spreading through mosquito bites in the United States, that doesn’t mean the country is immune. Researchers recommend everyone keep their mosquito population at bay to protect their family and pets from the virus; this can be done by keeping your yard free of stagnant water and by using mosquito repellant.

The Zika Virus can be a scary prospect for many people, especially because so much is unknown. Until scientists have a better idea of the cause and effects of the disease, your best bet at keeping your family and pets safe is to provide a clean and safe mosquito-free home.