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With the nation’s attention sharply focused on the Ebola cases in the United States, there’s been concern and confusion over whether pets can contract and transmit the deadly disease.
Many animal lovers have been closely following the case of Bentley, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who belongs to Nina Pham. Pham is one of two nurses who has been diagnosed with Ebola after treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Her dog is in a three-week quarantine at a former military facility there. Last week, Spanish authorities caused an international outcry when they euthanized a dog named Excalibur over fears that he could have Ebola after his owner became ill with the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control just published common questions and answers concerning pets and Ebola. Below are three important facts, directly from that report.
Q. Here in the United States, are our dogs and cats at risk of becoming sick with Ebola? A. The risk of an Ebola outbreak affecting multiple people in the United States is very low. Therefore, the risk to pets is also very low, as they would have to come into contact with blood and body fluids of a person with Ebola. Even in areas in Africa where Ebola is present, there have been no reports of dogs and cats becoming sick with Ebola.
Q. Can I get Ebola from my dog or cat?A. At this time, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola or of spreading Ebola to people or other animals. The chances of a dog or cat being exposed to the Ebola virus in the United States is very low, as they would have to come into contact with the blood and body fluids of a symptomatic person sick with Ebola.
Q. Can my pet’s body, fur or paws spread Ebola to a person? A. We do not yet know whether a pet’s body, paws or fur can pick up and spread Ebola to people or other animals. It is important to keep people and animals away from blood or body fluids of a person with symptoms of Ebola infection.
You can read the rest of the CDC report here.
The American Veterinary Medical Association also weighed in, stating that although Ebola "is a zoonotic disease, there has not been evidence of its transmission to humans from dogs. Indeed, it is not even known if dogs are capable of contracting and then transmitting the disease." It references a study on the 2001-2002 Ebola outbreak in Gabon in Central Africa. The study "found antibodies against the virus in about 25 percent of dogs in the affected area, but no virus was found in them. Furthermore, none of the animals showed signs or died of the disease during the study period. The study indicated only that the animals had encountered the Ebola virus."
After Spanish authorities euthanized Excalibur the dog last week, The World Small Animal Veterinary Association released a statement calling for quarantine — not euthanasia — for dogs exposed to Ebola. "... It is our view that available technology should allow for testing and quarantine, rather than automatic euthanasia of exposed animals," the statement reads. "Precedence should not be set for euthanizing pets as the exposure levels increase and fear escalates."
Keep checking back here for updates as more information becomes available from the CDC, AVMA and WSAVA and more sources.
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