Reduce the risk – Tips for animals and pets
West Nile virus (WNV) is spread from birds to animals and humans by mosquitoes that become infected while feeding on an infected bird. Wild birds (such as crows and magpies), horses, mules, donkeys and humans CAN be susceptible to the more serious effects of infection with WNV.
Cats and dogs
- Infection with WNV is NOT a significant health threat for dogs and cats. Dogs and cats can be infected with WNV but most will not show signs of illness.
- There is no evidence that WNV can be transmitted from an infected dog or cat to other animals or humans.
- Pet owners should check with a veterinarian before using insect repellent on their pets.
- Little is known about the effect of the virus on canaries, budgies or other pet birds. Pet birds should be kept indoors, away from the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes. Ensure that window screens have no holes and that doors close properly.
- The risk of infection by WNV to caged pets, such as reptiles, guinea pigs and hamsters bitten by an infected mosquito is unknown. Owners can minimize the risk of exposing these pets to WNV by keeping them indoors where they are less likely to be bitten by mosquitoes.
- Infection with WNV has been documented in a wide variety of animals, including squirrels, alpacas, cattle, bats, goats, skunks and domestic rabbits. However, disease in these animals is rare and the infection goes away eventually. A few alpacas and captive mountain goats may have died from WNV in the United States.
- Wild birds of the Corvidae family, magpies, crows, blue jays and ravens, can be sensitive to WNV and often die after a short illness. However, it is likely since the arrival of WNV in 2003 that bird species exposed to the virus adapted to its presence in the ecosystem and developed protective immunity.
- There is no evidence that WNV can pass from birds to humans by handling live passerines (perching birds) or the carcass of hunter-killed waterfowl.
- Bird feeders do not pose a significant risk for spreading WNV to other birds or humans.
- For more information on WNV and birds, go to Alberta Sustainable Resource Development’s website.
Horses, mules and donkeys