West Nile Virus outbreak in Lake Tahoe, no vaccine for dogs. Simple, non-chemical ways to prevent deadly West Nile or heartworm mosquitoes on your property.
West Nile Virus Is Back
Non-chemical ways to reduce risk of West Nile Virus and heartworm infection through simple safety and property precautions.
West Nile Virus first made veterinary news when a cat in New Jersey was found infected in 1999. Upon the initial discovery, dogs were tested as part of a Queens, NY study and a significant number tested positive for exposure to West Nile virus.
Flooding throughout much of the nation during the first half of 2003 led to increased risk of exposure and mosquito-transmitted infection.
Horses in (dry) Arizona contracted West Nile Virus in 2003 and by late 2013, West Nile had been documented in 44 states with more than 1500 cases of human illness.
After an extremely wet year, health authorities are concerned that southern states may suffer a similar effect.
2016 broke records for extremely hot and dry weather in most of the U.S. 2017 promises more of the same but even drought doesn't prevent mosquitoes and whether they carry West Nile Virus or some other blood-transmitted disease such as heartworm disease, the risk is very real for you and for your pets.
Once thought to only be mosquito-borne, we now know that birds spread West Nile virus, acting as an infectious source for other animals. The virus has been identified in many mammals, from man to sheep to alligators. It is hoped that humans will gradually develop West Nile immunity from exposure to low levels of the virus.
Dogs are rarely tested for West Nile virus and therefore may be misdiagnosed. Canine diagnostic tests are available but they are expensive so mosquito prevention is the key.
Prevention Against West Nile or Heartworm Mosquito Infection
Mosquito Control: Check the premises for even the slightest source of standing water. Potted plants are a prime breeding ground for heartworm and West Nile infected mosquitoes hatch in only a few drops of water. If you have a water feature, be sure you have hungry fish that will gobble up mosquito larvae. Encourage Purple Martins, bluebirds and even bats to spend the summer at your house.
Use Mosquito Spray: Mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing – or hair coat. DEET spray is quite effective in concentrations of 35% and is best applied to light colored clothing or lightly sprayed over your dog when taking him out for last potty trip.
Outside Protection: If you live in an area with a mosquito problem, only let your dogs (and yourself) outside for a short period, after spraying with DEET. Of course your house-dogs will have to go outside to potty. Be aware that disease carrying mosquitoes will eagerly feed on your short-coated dog and even long thick coats don’t protect eye and muzzle areas.Shielding his eyes, lightly spray his topside and get back inside a soon as possible. You can also devise a light gauze or muslin drape to loosely fasten on your dog for that quick bedtime walk.
The best precaution is simple: stay inside from dusk until midnight during mosquito season. That's when mosquitoes wake up hungry and are most active. Train house dogs to "wait" until well past dusk, preferably until bedtime. Shut kennel dogs inside during early evening even though that is the time they would otherwise become more active as the day cools. Limiting food and water during late afternoon can help to make bedtime potty trips quick.
Heartworm disease and West Nile Virus are not to be taken lightly and simple precautions will reduce risk for you and your dogs, horses, and cats.
There is no vaccine for West Nile Virus.
While that is true, you should also be aware that heartworm prevention medications risk your dog's immune system and overall health. Prevention through property protection is the safest answer!
Newscasters also raised concerns with reports of the Asian Tiger Mosquito. We covered that species and its relationship to Mosquitoes and Heartworm - be prepared and informed. Learn how to dramatically reduce the incidence of heartworm mosquito exposure.
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