Animal Poison Control Center and the American Veterinary Medical
Association offer safety tips for pet owners during mosquito
spraying to prevent spread of West Nile virus
New York, NY and Schaumburg, IL — As
more cases of West Nile virus-associated illness have been
diagnosed in people and horses, communities have taken steps
to prevent spread of the virus. Mosquito control is the most
effective means of preventing spread of the West Nile virus
and many communities are including spray application of pesticides
in their control programs. Although approved pesticides for
mosquito control pose minimal risk when used by professionals,
the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and the American Veterinary
Medical Association offer the following tips to help pet owners
limit their pets' exposure to these pesticides:
Steps to Reduce Pet Exposure to Pesticides Used
for Mosquito Control
·Know when pesticides
will be sprayed in your community.
·Keep pets indoors during times when pesticides are
being sprayed. Elderly or debilitated animals or those with
preexisting health conditions, such as heart disease or asthma,
may be more sensitive to airborne pesticides and chemicals.
·Close windows and turn off window-unit air conditioners
when spraying is taking place in the immediate area.
·Bring pet dishes, toys, and other items inside while
pesticides are being sprayed. If these items have been accidentally
exposed to the spray, wash the items with soap and water and
rinse well before reintroducing the items to your pets.
·Horses should be kept in their stalls or in a lean-to
·Cover water troughs and water buckets.
·Cover fishponds during spraying, as fish can be sensitive
to certain pesticides.
·If you suspect that your pet is experiencing difficulties,
contact your veterinarian immediately.
West Nile viral encephalitis is a mosquito-borne
infection of the brain caused by the West Nile virus. West
Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito,
and can infect people and animals. Wild birds, horses, and
humans are the species most often affected; however, the virus
has also been identified in cats, dogs, bats, chipmunks, skunks,
squirrels and domestic rabbits. Although these latter species
may become infected, they usually do not develop clinical
signs of disease.
Risk of contracting West Nile virus is low.
In areas where mosquitoes carry the virus, less than 1% are
actually infected. Even if mosquitoes are infected, less than
1% of people bitten and infected by those mosquitoes become
Most infections in humans are relatively
mild, with flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, body
aches and, in some cases, skin rash and swollen lymph glands.
Signs of more severe infections include high fever, neck stiffness,
muscle weakness, convulsions and paralysis. Death rates associated
with severe infection range from 3% to 15% and are highest
among the elderly.
For more poison prevention tips, please visit the ASPCA Animal
Poison Control Center's Web site at www.apcc.aspca.org. For
more information about West Nile virus and ensuring your pet's
good health, contact your veterinarian and visit the American
Veterinary Medical Association's Web site at www.avma.org.
# # #
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is the
only animal poison control center in North America. Established
in 1978 at the University of Illinois, the Center is the only
facility of its kind staffed by twenty-five veterinarians
including four board-certified veterinary toxicologists and
ten certified veterinary technicians. Located in Urbana, Illinois,
the specially trained staff provides assistance to pet owners
and specific analysis and treatment recommendation to veterinarians
pertaining to toxic chemicals and dangerous plants, products
or substances 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In 2001, the
Center handled over 65,000 cases. The Center also provides
extensive veterinary toxicology expert consulting on a wide
array of subjects includes legal cases, formulation issues,
product liability and regulatory reporting. To reach the ASPCA
Animal Poison Control Center hotline call 1-888-426-4435
The American Veterinary Medical Association, founded in 1863,
is the oldest and largest veterinary medical organization
in the world. More than 67,000 member veterinarians are engaged
in a wide variety of professional activities. AVMA members
are dedicated to advancing the science and art of veterinary
medicine, including its relationship to public health and
agriculture. Visit the AVMA Web site at www.avma.org. to learn
more about veterinary medicine and animal care, and to access
up-to-date information on the association's issues, policies