What Pet Owners Should Know About Monkeypox

What Pet Owners Should Know About Monkeypox

The United States currently leads the world in monkeypox cases, and national and global numbers continue to rise. Although the virus has predominantly spread among men who have sex with men, some women and children are now contracting the illness. Recently, the first case in a pet was reported. It was an Italian greyhound in Paris, France. 

Due to the fact that there are more than 42,900 cases of monkeypox across 95 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a global health emergency. The WHO calculated nearly 7,500 new cases in the week prior to August 17, 2022, marking a 20% increase from the previous week. After the United States, Spain has the largest outbreak, with 6,119 cases, followed by Brazil with 3,450 cases. Germany comes in fourth with 3,295 cases, and the United Kingdom with 3,081 cases. 

Before this current outbreak, most human cases of monkeypox came from close contact with infected animals while farming or hunting. Monkeypox is dissimilar to smallpox in that it does not exclusively infect humans. Monkeypox is an orthopoxvirus, which is less discriminating in its host. That means that squirrels, prairie dogs, rats, and groundhogs can be infected.

What Pet Owners Should Know

There are more dogs and cats in the U.S. than the combined human populations of Australia and The U.K. The role that these animals play in the spread of infectious diseases within households has been ignored. Because monkeypox can jump species, health experts want people to think how a human infection affects pets. It gets dangerous when an animal infects another animal, and another, and another. If too many animals contract the virus, they can pass it back to humans in a more altered, vicious form. That’s when you start to see a rapid evolution of the virus, which is the last thing the world needs. If

Earlier this month, the Lancet medical journal published a scientific account of the first human-to-dog monkeypox transmission. The dog was an Italian greyhound in Paris, France, and it caught it from his infected owners by sleeping in their bed. Veterinarians want people to understand that pets show affection for owners. They climb in their bed, lick their faces, nuzzle their skin, and go wherever they go. All of these habits are potential transmission pathways. An infected pet can easily pass the virus to other animals via bites, scratches, feces, or urine.

Concerns About Human To Dog Transmission

Before people get up in arms about a serious monkeypox outbreak in pets, there are a few things to know. A severe outbreak may not result just because one case of human-to-dog infection occurred. Veterinarians just want people to understand that pets, especially dogs, are easily susceptible to monkeypox. Additionally, there is no evidence on paper that reported just how much monkeypox was found in the dog’s DNA. That means that the dog may not have had enough for an active infection. Reports about the dog’s antibodies to monkeypox have not been documented either. 

If People Have Monkeypox, Should They Isolate From Pets?

Anyone with a known infection or suspected exposure should not engage in close contact with their pet. Additionally, anyone who is immunocompromised and living in the same house with an infected person should isolate or leave during the infection period. Any and all animals should be kept in isolation from all other animals and people for at least 21 days after the pet’s first known exposure to the virus. That means no dog park!

Lastly, do not surrender, euthanize, or abandon pets just because of a potential monkeypox exposure. Keep the pets isolated after exposure to keep them and everyone safe from infection. Additionally, don’t bathe or wipe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide. If you are infected and cannot be isolated from your pet, make sure to wash your hands or care for them with gloves before and after caring for them.



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