Can your pet get infected with monkeypox?

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The first case of human-to-animal transmission of monkeypox has been reported in Paris. Published in The Lancet, the case of “a dog with a confirmed monkeypox virus infection that might have been acquired through human transmission”, involves two men and their pet Italian greyhound.

The journal added that the men had presented with anal ulceration six days after sex with other partners. “In patient 1, anal ulceration was followed by a vesiculopustular rash on the face, ears, and legs; in patient 2, on the legs and back. In both cases, rash was associated with asthenia, headaches, and fever 4 days later,” it read. But 12 days after symptom onset, their four-year-old male dog with no previous medical disorders, presented with mucocutaneous lesions, including abdomen pustules and thin anal ulceration. The dog tested positive for monkeypox virus by use of a PCR protocol, the journal report mentioned.

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The journal further suggested that given the dog’s skin and mucosal lesions as well as the positive monkeypox virus PCR results from anal and oral swabs, “we hypothesise a real canine disease, not a simple carriage of the virus by close contact with humans or airborne transmission (or both)”. Our findings should prompt debate on the need to isolate pets from monkeypox virus-positive individuals. We call for further investigation on secondary transmissions via pets, it said.

monkeypox Human to animal transmission of monkeypox has been reported for the first time (Source: The Lancet)

Commenting on the same, Dr Rosamund Lewis, the WHO’s technical lead for monkeypox, during a Washington Post Live event on Monday said that “this is the first incident that we’re learning about where there is human-to-animal transmission,” adding “This has not been reported before, and it has not been reported that dogs have been infected before”. “On a number of levels, this is new information,” she mentioned. “It’s not surprising information, and it’s something that we’ve been on the watch out for.

She further elaborated that while as a precautionary measure, pets and family members have always been asked to isolate, this case reinforces the message. “And so the messaging that has been given up until now was that pets should be isolated from their family members who may be infected. This has been an example of a precautionary approach, precautionary messaging, because we didn’t have the information that this had ever happened before. It had not been recorded before. But it was a reasonable cautious message to give. And now we have the first incident where this has actually occurred,” she said as part of the Live event.

Here’s what to know

To recall, the monkeypox virus is an orthopoxvirus that causes a disease with symptoms similar, but less severe, to smallpox. While smallpox was eradicated in 1980, monkeypox, a zoonotic disease, continues to occur in countries of central and west Africa.

WHO notes that monkeypox can be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin or on internal mucosal surfaces, such as in the mouth or throat, respiratory droplets and contaminated objects.

Can your pets get infected?

Dr Vinod Sharma, Head Veterinary Services, DCC Animal Hospital told indianexpress.com that pets with close contact with a symptomatic person with monkeypox should be kept at home and away from other animals and people for 21 days after the most recent contact. Quoting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, he added that infected people should not take care of exposed pets.

“The person with monkeypox should avoid close contact with the exposed animal, and when possible, ask another household member to care for the animal until the person with monkeypox is fully recovered,” he said.

monkeypox Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

How to prevent infection from humans to animals?

Dr Sharma mentioned that the same measures of hygiene and immunity also apply to pets, including dogs and cats.

*Do not let animals come into contact with rashes, bandages, and body fluids.
*Ensure food, bedding, or other items that you provide for your pet have not come in direct contact with skin or uncovered rash.

What should you do if your pet shows symptoms?

According to CDC, the signs of monkeypox in dogs include the development of a new rash, which to date has been located on the abdomen and anus.

*Do not euthanise pets with suspected monkeypox unless directed by a veterinarian.
*Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products, such as hand sanitiser, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners.

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