Zika Virus and Dogs – A serious infectious disease.
“Up to 20 percent of bites from the Aedes aegypti mosquito in
several rural communities in Puerto Rico were on dogs.”
CDC researcher Roberto Barrera
Zika virus and dogs is just about to become a new trend in the world of infectious diseases.
Zika virus is an arbovirus native to Africa, firstly identified in 1947 in a monkey living in the Zika forest in Uganda (hence its name). Then it was found in mosquitoes (Aedes africanus) in the same forest in 1948, and in a human in Nigeria in 1952. There are two ZIKV lineages: the African lineage and the Asian lineage which has recently emerged in the Pacific and the Americas.
The Zika virus (ZIKV) is transmitted, air-borne, via female Aedes mosquitoes. The current outbreak in the Americas is transmitted more specifically by the female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
This infectious disease is related to West Nile virus, Dengue virus, Yellow Fever, and the Chikungunya Virus.
Zika virus outbreak spreading around the world
Recent Zika virus disease outbreaks were reported for the first time from the Pacific in 2007 and 2013 (Yap and French Polynesia, respectively), and in 2015 from the Americas (Brazil and Colombia) and Africa (Cape Verde).
In May 2015, locally acquired cases of Zika virus were confirmed in Brazil. It is supposed that the virus came to Brazil during the 2014 Soccer World Cup.
Since then, it has spread to 21 countries in the Caribbean, North and South America and WHO has warned that the virus is likely to spread across nearly all of the Americas.
After Brazil, Colombia is the country most affected by Zika, with more than 25,000 cases so far, more than 3,000 of them involving pregnant women.
In Colombia, three people reportedly died recently after contracting GBS. Experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently completed the initial stages of a trial looking at the connection between Zika and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).
The mosquito reproduces even faster during the summer, a rainy season, which is the one currently happening in south america and that is going to be in just a few months in the northern hemisphere. A perfect environment for the mosquito.
How is the Zika Virus transmitted?
Some evidence suggests Zika virus can also be transmitted from humans to humans through blood transfusion, perinatal transmission and even sexual transmission.
Other scientific studies already confirmed it can be transmitted by human saliva, urine, blood, and semen, once more during sexual relations.
No treatment or vaccine
There is no prophylaxis, treatment or vaccine to protect against ZIKV infection.
Therefore, preventive personal measures are recommended to avoid mosquito bites during the daytime.
The lack of any natural immunity in the Americas is thought to be helping the infection to spread rapidly since there is currently no treatment or vaccine.
The virus enters the bloodstream and can infect the skin cells, the lymphatic system and the conjunctiva (the membrane that lines the eye).
Therefore, the symptoms of the virus – that remains around two to three days in the body – are the formation of red spots on the skin, lymph nodes and conjunctivitis, as well as usually mild fever and malaise, but also severe joint pain.
Clinical features and sequelae
- The incubation period ranges between approximately three to 12 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.
- Most of the infections remain asymptomatic (between 60 to 80%).
- Disease symptoms are usually mild and the disease in usually characterised by a short-lasting self-limiting febrile illness of 4–7 days duration without severe complications, with no associated fatalities and a low hospitalization rate.
- The main symptoms are macular or papular rash, fever, arthralgia, non-purulent conjunctivitis/conjunctival hyperaemia, myalgia and headache. The maculo-papular rash often starts on the face and then spreads throughout the body. Less frequently, retro-orbital pain and gastro-intestinal signs are present.
Zika Virus and Microcephaly
The relationship between Zika and the birth of babies with microcephaly was confirmed by the Brazilian Ministry of Health at the end of last year. The government investigation came after Brazilian scientists have recorded a high number of cases of Microcephaly in regions with known cases of zika. The researchers were based on studies reporting the microorganism may also have affinity with the cells of the nervous system. One such research, published in 1952, describes the injection of the virus in mice, rabbits and chimpanzees.
The analysis revealed that in young rats with less than two weeks of life, zika can destroy nerve cells, which effect was not seen in older animals. According to the government, the main evidence was the detection of zika virus in a baby’s blood sample that was born with microcephaly and died. However, it is not known if the virus is exclusively responsible for microcephaly or if there are other factors involved.
Those animals are quite similar of dogs regarding lab tests of vacines for new diseases, therefore Zika virus and dogs is a probable line of scientific study.
What Is Microcephaly?
Microcephaly (my-kroh-SEF-uh-lee) is – until now – a rare neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than the heads of other children of the same age and sex. Sometimes detected at birth, microcephaly usually is the result of the brain developing abnormally in the womb or not growing as it should after birth.
Microcephaly can be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Children with microcephaly often have developmental issues. Generally there’s no treatment for microcephaly, but early intervention with supportive therapies, such as speech and occupational therapies, may help enhance your child’s development and improve quality of life.
It is hitting the headlines as it has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains, with some countries advising women not to get pregnant. The CDC has issued a travel alert for people travelling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing; in addition, the Brazilian authorities have announced plans to prevent the spread of the Zika virus during the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games later this year.
Is Zika Virus a Serious Disease?
The symptoms may be ‘soft’ (when you are not one of the infected, as people infected by Dengue report an excrutiating pain in their muscle joints). However, Zika disease can also cause Microcephaly in pregnant women, a birth defect that can lead to death.
When it was a flu-like illness just confined to some regions in Africa, Zika wasn’t a high priority so research hasn’t been extensive.
Now it is becoming a widespread epidemic in all the Americas. This serious infectious disease is specially about to explode after the end of Carnival in Brazil, a place littered with focuses of the mosquito – specially now that all that matters is partying – and where many tourists, from all parts of the world, joined the festivities. Soon, they will leave the country and some many of them will take the Zika virus in their body.
First cases were already identified in the USA and Canada. Some patients even had the virus detected in their urine and saliva. There are reports that over 50 fifty people already have the virus in the USA alone (10/Feb/2016). It was only 2 two persons just a few days ago.
Zika and Ebola – Different diseases, similar epidemics
It may sound overly alarming but by reading this excellent article by Yanbai Andrea Wang (a fellow at the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford School of Medicine, and Michele Barry, director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford School of Medicine) you will understand better.
Although Zika and Ebola are very different contagions that cause distinctive diseases, there are startling similarities in how the two epidemics unfolded.
Both were detected late. By the time health authorities understood that we were in the midst of an Ebola outbreak, the virus had been spreading for months and across multiple international borders. We are only now starting to piece together the magnitude of the Zika crisis, but the more than 20-fold surge in reports of microcephaly — a neurologic birth defect believed to be caused by Zika infection in pregnant women — last year in Brazil suggests that extensive viral spread in late 2014 and early 2015 went unnoticed.
The Zika Virus Can Kill?
The Brazilian Ministry of Health confirmed three deaths related to the virus (5/Feb/2016). One is of a baby from Ceará state born with microcephaly and provided blood samples that were the basis for the confirmation of the relationship between zika and microcephaly.
Another case is of a man who had lupus in Maranhão state. The third death is a girl 16 years old, Pará state.
All deaths were centered in the north/northeast of Brazil — some of its poorest areas.
Zika Virus and Dogs
Chris Barker, a researcher in the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at the University of California, Davis. Barker studies the epidemiology of mosquito-transmitted diseases.
Of two common mosquito species that spread Zika — Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus — the former prefers biting humans and the latter has a broader palate. CDC (Centers for Disease Control) researcher Roberto Barrera found that up to 20 percent of bites from the Aedes aegypti mosquito in several rural communities in Puerto Rico were on dogs.
“Certainly there’s the potential for a pet to become infected,” says Barker. “What we don’t know is what that means for the health of the animal.”
If a dog or cat were to become infected, we also don’t know – yet – if they could spread the virus to humans.
“What would ultimately matter in terms of whether a pet would play a role in transmission is how much virus would be in the animals’ blood,” Barker says.
So, the risk to pets in areas where the virus is circulating (areas where there are Aedes egpyti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes) is obviously Not low.
Can domestic animals, like dogs, get infected with Zika?
- Infected means that they get exposed to the virus and it replicates in the body. That is already occurring in Puerto Rico, which is a part of the United States, also with numerous daily non-stop flights.
- Another aspect is whether infected (but potentially healthy) animals could harbor the virus, being able to pass it on to mosquitoes, other dogs and even people. Researches are being conducted as we speak.
So, the clearest answer for the question of “Can domestic animals get infected with Zika virus?” is certainly “Yes”.
Developments on Zika Virus, Microcephaly, and Dogs.
It is too early to say anything overly conclusively that mosquitoes carrying the Zika Virus could contaminate dogs and other animals that would develop microcephaly and so start to present deformed, shrunk brains.
It is also not yet confirmed that contaminated dogs could infect other dogs, or even people.
Or if infected people could contaminate dogs (saliva, urine, blood, semen).
However, there are already some clues that this is going to become something huge, absolutely enormous also due to high number of dogs living with humans, inside their homes, sharing their furniture and much, much more.
Would those self-called “animal lovers” still love dogs with severe brain defects, deformed heads, and even more unintelligent than they already are?
Would dogs die when infected by the Zika Virus?
Let’s see what happens with Zika virus and dogs. Nature will do its job anyway.
Zika Virus Can Be Bought on the Internet.
As unbeliavable as it may seem, a batch of this serious, some times deadly virus can be purchased from the Internet by measly US$500. Anyone can buy it. Just pay and get it.
Just imagine what crazy minds could do with that.
Sorry, no link on where you could buy Zika Viruses on the Internet. You must do your own research. Unfortunately, it’s not difficult anyway.