Saturday, February 20, 2016

Should veterinarians be worried about Zika virus?

Zika virus has been all over the news of late, but it has been around for a long, long time. It is transmitted primarily by two species of mosquito, although there is limited data supporting sexual transmission between humans. Scientists are still trying to determine the nature of the association between microencephaly in newborns and Zika virus, and why the sudden explosion of cases in Brazil.

While non-human primates can be affected, there is no evidence to date that domestic animals can develop clinical disease or transmit the virus to humans. You can read more on Scott Weese’s Worms and Germsblog

In terms of the risk in Australia, it is relatively low according to Dr Cameron Webb.

If you are worried about infectious diseases or want to learn more, I highly recommend the Free Coursera Massive Open Online Course(MOOC) on epidemics, put together by the Pennsylvania State University. They’ve put together the above video about the current Zika outbreak. If you can't see the video above click here or here.

There are still plenty of reasons for veterinarians to worry about mosquitoes – they’re very good at spreading heartworm, for example. They also spread diseases such as Ross River virus, malaria and chikungunya to humans. Where there are mozzies, it makes sense to stock up on mozzie repellent, and make good use of mosquito nets.