New Delhi, Aug 17: People infected with monkeypox must isolate their pets, said an official from the World Health Organization, after a report showed the first-ever case of human-to-dog transmission of the virus in France.
In a Lancet report earlier this week, French researchers documented the first case of a dog with confirmed monkeypox infection that might have been acquired through human transmission.
Earlier a monkeypox outbreak in the US was linked to prairie pet dogs, but no human to animal transmission was reported.
According to Dr. Rosamund Lewis, WHO Technical Lead on monkeypox, the first human-to-dog transmission of the virus is new but not surprising, The Washington Post reported.
“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,” Lewis was quoted as saying.
During the US outbreak, Lewis said it was all persons who were infected by contact with these new pets that they acquired in several states from a central source and the pets had been infected.
But in the latest case, a team from the Sorbonne University in Paris recorded the case of monkeypox in two men who have sex with men, whose Italian greyhound, aged 4 years and with no previous medical disorders, tested positive for the virus.
The dog, who was co-sleeping with the men, presented with mucocutaneous (involving both typical skin and mucous membrane) lesions, including red, tender bumps with white pus on abdomen and anal skin ulcer, 12 days after the onset of monkeypox symptoms in the two men.
“Pets should be isolated from their–from the 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,” Lewis said.
“We don’t know if that dog can go and transmit the infection to anyone else, for example. This is an example where most pets will not be at risk. It may only be those who are actually in the household of someone who’s infected, a she added.
She noted that within the WHO, experts have been working with partners such as the World Organization of Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization to address the issue.
Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also advises people with monkeypox to avoid contact with animals, including their pets because infected animals can spread the virus to people, and it is “possible that people who are infected can spread monkeypox virus to animals through close contact, including petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food”.
Pets who had close contact with someone with monkeypox symptoms should be kept at home and away from other animals and people for 21 days after the most recent contact, the CDC said.
“We are still learning which species of animals can get monkeypox,” the agency said.
“While we do not know if reptiles, amphibians, or birds can get monkeypox, it is unlikely since these animals have not been found to be infected with other orthopoxviruses.”