In the first case of human-to-animal monkeypox transmission, a dog has been reportedly infected with the virus by its owners in France.
The development, reported in the Lancet medical journal, underscores guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that urges people with suspected or confirmed monkeypox infections to avoid contact with animals — including their pets — while they’re infectious.
What were the symptoms in the dog?
The men, who lived together as a non-exclusive couple, tested positive for monkeypox in early June. Twelve days later after they were diagnosed, their 4-year-old Italian greyhound started showing symptoms of the same.
The dog developed lesions and tested positive for the same type of monkeypox as one of the owners.
According to the study in Lancet, the lesions on the skin were specifically “mucocutaneous lesions, including abdomen pustules and a thin anal ulceration”.
How can dogs/ animals get monkeypox via humans?
“To the best of our knowledge, the kinetics of symptom onset in both patients and, subsequently, in their dog, suggest human-to-dog transmission of monkeypox virus,” the report quoted the author.
The CDC says that a number of animals are susceptible to monkeypox, including several types of rodents, monkeys, apes, hedgehogs, shrews and dogs. However, it's unknown whether that’s true for cats or farm animals, such as cows, goats, sheep and pigs.
The CDC further suggests that people who are infected can spread the monkeypox virus to animals through close contact — petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food.
The study calls for further research on the transmission and suggests prompt discussion on whether pets must be isolated from their infected owners.
A report by The Guardian suggests that when viruses jump the species barrier it often causes concern that they could mutate dangerously and the main concern revolves around the animals on the streets.
The Lancet report further said that in endemic countries, only wild animals (rodents and primates) have been found to carry the monkeypox virus.
What are the possible precautions?
If owners test positive, pets should be shifted to another place or kept away for around 21 days.
The CDC further suggests asking a friend or family member who lives in a different household to care for the animal until the owner fully recovers.
While taking care of the pet, owners must wash their hands before and after handling the pet. They should also wear gloves and well-fitted masks while touching the skin.
Pet owners also should try to keep their animals from coming into contact with contaminated clothing, sheets and towels. Pus from the sores of an infected person is filled with contagious virus.
Waste management of pet litter also plays an important role. Litter should be flushed down or sealed and thrown away to avoid the spread of the virus in the open and wild.