Health officials are warning people infected with monkeypox to stay away from household pets. Infections from the virus have long been detected in rodents and other wild animals, which can spread to humans. However, the world witnessed the first report of a monkeypox infection in a domesticated animal last week.
Vigilance is important to avoid future spillovers from infected humans to animals.
— World Organisation for Animal Health (@WOAH_Global) August 17, 2022
It was reported that an Italian greyhound allegedly caught the virus from its owners. That news gained worldwide attention after its publication in the medical journal Lancet. Dr. Rosamund Lewis, the monkeypox lead at the World Health Organization (WHO), spoke on the case.
“So, this is the first incident that we’re learning about where there is human to animal transmission,” Dr. Lewis said. “This has not been reported before, and it has not been reported that dogs have been infected before. So, on a number of levels, this is new information. It’s not surprising information, and it’s something that we’ve been on the watch out for.”
The dog’s owners, two French men, claimed that they slept alongside their dog after they were diagnosed with monkeypox. They soon noticed that their greyhound developed lesions. The animal was later diagnosed with monkeypox as well.
After that report, CDC Disease Ecologist Jeff Doty released recommendations for pet owners in connection with monkeypox.
“Reducing contact (with) the animal to necessary things such as providing food and water,” he said. “We would obviously recommend that people don’t sleep with their animals if they have monkeypox. And reducing other types of close contact, such as hugging, snuggling, kissing and licking and that kind of thing.”
Public health officials said that they do not yet know if a dog can go and transmit the infection to anyone else, or if the only pets at risk are those in the household of someone who is infected.
“This is an isolated case so far. But, you know, there are more and more human cases develop,” said Doty. “We could see changes and start seeing more infections in animals. And so, I think it’s important to get the messaging out that reducing transmission between humans and animals is really important.”
The CDC advises pets that come in close contact with an infected person to be kept home and away from other animals and people for 21 days.