By Dr. Eva Evans, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats.
As the global Ebola virus outbreak worsens, pet owners are starting to wonder how their animals could be affected by the virus. Recently, a dog belonging to a Spanish healthcare worker was euthanized by Spanish health officials because of fears that the dog could transmit the deadly virus. The Dallas nurse, Nina Pham, who recently became the first person to contract Ebola in the United States is also a pet owner. The local authorities in Dallas quarantined her dog, but Pham is now an Ebola survivor and her dog was released from quarantine on Nov. 1st after being cleared of not having Ebola. With conflicting views on pets in the Ebola crisis, should we be concerned about our pets contracting or transmitting Ebola?
Ebola is a zoonotic disease, which means that it can be transmitted to humans from other species. It is well known that Ebola can be contracted in humans from certain animals such as fruit bats and non-human primates such as apes and monkeys. The virus is spread through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from an infected person or animal such as bats or monkeys. Animal to human transmission typically occurs from eating bush meat from infected animals. Dogs and cats that have been exposed to Ebola will form antibodies which tell us that their immune system is responding to the presence of the virus. However, there is no evidence that they become sick or show any symptoms from the virus. Additionally, there is currently no proof that dogs and cats can pass on the Ebola virus to humans.
At this time, there is not enough research on dogs and cats in regards to the virus, so U.S. health officials are taking steps to monitor pets that have been exposed to Ebola just to be on the safe side. It is thought that domestic animals and pets do not spread Ebola to people, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has developed protocols to quarantine pets until more is known about their role in the complex potential transmission of the virus. The CDC has published information on Ebola transmission, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has published a statement specifically on pets and Ebola. For more information of the AVMA’s statement regarding Ebola in animals: https://www.avma.org/public/Health/Pages/Ebola-virus-FAQ.aspx