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Greenburgh Vet: West Nile no Threat for Dogs, Cats

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- As mosquitoes collected in Westchester County tested positive for West Nile virus, some Greenburgh residents may start worrying not only about themselves but about their pets too. Dr. Jenny Sing, an associate at the Veterinary Emergency Group near the town court, said that dogs and cats owners have nothing to fear.

“We have never had any case,” said Sing, a graduate from Ross University who has been with the group for seven years.

West Nile, a type of virus known as flavivirus, was identified in 1937 in Uganda. It was discovered in the United States, in New York, in the summer of 1999 and since then has spread throughout the United States.

West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes have been confirmed in cities and towns in Connecticut and Westchester County. The disease caused by the virus is most common during August and early September, when mosquitoes are abundant. As the weather cools, mosquitoes die off and the risk of infection decreases.

The good news is that estimated 90 percent of the humans infected with the West Nile virus don’t present any symptoms at all. Some might experience minor symptoms, such as low-grade fever and mild headache.

Less than one percent develops life-threatening illnesses like West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis, including inflammation of the brain, according to the Center for Disease Control.

As for animals, the most susceptible West Nile hosts are horses, cattle, sheep and birds.

“Definitely a big concern is horses, but we don’t treat many horses here,” Sing said.

She added that birds exposed to the wild or that stayed outside have the highest risk, and that although symptoms can vary, she expected them to show changes in behavior and feeding habits.

Have you heard of anybody who got sick due to West Nile virus? What about animals?

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