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D2004-15

Dear Daisy Dog

Can dogs get West Nile Virus?

Daisy Responds

Yes and no.

West Nile Virus, a cause of encephalitis, inflammation of the brain, was first seen in the United States in 1999. Since then, studies in a number of animal species have shown that the virus can be transmitted through a mosquito bite.

After the dogs in one study were bitten by infected mosquitoes, low levels of the virus could be detected in the dogs’ blood for a short time. Researchers felt the level of virus in the blood was too low to infect other mosquitos that might bite the dog.

While the virus was detected in their blood, none of the dogs in the study showed any signs of disease.

In short, the West Nile Virus can infect dogs, but otherwise healthy dogs are unlikely to develop disease or spread the virus. On the other hand, a dog with an impaired immune system might become ill if infected with the virus.

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