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West Nile virus is transmitted by infectious mosquitoes. There is no documented evidence of person-to-person or animal-to-person transmission of West Nile virus. Normal veterinary infection control precautions should be followed when caring for a horse suspected to have this or any viral infection.
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West Nile virus does not appear to cause illness in dogs and cats. Dogs and cats (and other animals) can become infected with the virus, but do not show signs of illness.
DEET-based repellents, which are recommended for humans, are not approved for veterinary use (largely because animals tend to ingest them when licking.) Talk with your veterinarian for advice about the appropriate product for use on your pet.
Infected mosquitoes are the primary source for West Nile virus. Although ticks infected with West Nile virus have been found in Asia and Africa, their role in the transmission and maintenance of the virus is uncertain. However, there is no information to suggest that ticks played any role in the cases identified in the United States.
Although the vast majority of infections have been identified in birds, West Nile virus has been shown to infect horses, cats, bats, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels, and domestic rabbits. Domestic cats and dogs may become infected with the virus.
There is no evidence that a person can get the virus from handling live or dead infected birds. However, persons should avoid bare-handed contact when handling any dead animals and use gloves or double plastic bags to place the carcass in a garbage can.
There is no evidence that West Nile Virus can be transmitted to humans through consuming infected birds or animals. In keeping with overall public health practice, and due to the risk of known food-borne pathogens, people should always follow procedures for fully cooking meat from either birds or mammals.