- While it’s possible for pets to get monkey pox, health experts say it’s rare.
- Scientists reported a case of monkey pox in an Italian Greyhound in Paris, France.
- Symptoms of monkey pox in pets include fatigue, loss of appetite, cough, bloating, fever, and skin rash.
As U.S. health officials struggle to contain the monkeypox outbreak, some pet owners are wondering if their four-legged companions are at risk.
Researchers found it possible after identifying a case of monkeypox in a dog in Paris, France, according to a study published last week in The Lancet.
The dog may have gotten the infection from its owners, the case study suggested, which is two men who have sex with men. Twelve days after they started showing symptoms, lesions appeared on their Italian Greyhound.
Study authors suggest the dog may have become infected while sleeping with its owners. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say monkeypox can spread by touching fabrics such as bedding.
Armed with this information, here’s everything experts want you to know to keep your canine or feline friend safe.
Can my pet get monkey pox?
While The Lancet’s study shows it’s possible for pets to get monkey pox, health experts say it’s rare.
“The risk is extremely low,” says Dr. Lori Teller, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “The way our pets would most likely catch it is through extremely close contact.”
So far, no cases have been reported in cats, guinea pigs or hamsters, but Teller said research shows rabbits and mice can get the virus. An outbreak of monkeypox in the US in 2003 also showed that prairie dogs can contract the virus, according to the CDC.
Monkeypox Signs, Symptoms in Pets
The CDC said possible signs of illness in pets include fatigue, loss of appetite, coughing, nasal discharge or crusting, bloating and fever.
“However, it’s important to keep in mind that these are common symptoms of many respiratory diseases or viral infections,” Teller said.
Even the signature lesions of monkeypox, which can show up as a pimple- or blister-like rash, “can look like so many things,” she said.
If a pet shows a rash or two other clinical signs within 21 days of exposure, the CDC urges people to notify their veterinarian for a professional assessment.
How long does the monkeypox rash last?:A visual guide to how the monkeypox rash evolves.
What should I do if my pet has monkey pox?
If a pet has probable or confirmed monkey pox, health experts recommend segregating it from other animals and minimizing direct contact with humans for at least 21 days, once symptoms resolve.
Owners should wash their hands regularly and use personal protective equipment such as gloves, eye protection, a well-fitting mask and a disposable coat when caring for or cleaning up sick animals, according to CDC guidelines.
If a disposable coat is not available, the agency recommends wearing clothing that completely covers the skin. Remove and wash contaminated clothing immediately after handling the pet and its belongings. Other precautions include placing a lined trash can to dispose of contaminated waste and disinfecting bedding, fencing and food dishes after direct contact.
Teller said owners should avoid direct physical contact as much as possible, but still recommends taking pets outside to exercise.
“We know that the spread of monkeypox involves very close contact,” she said. “If you’re out walking your dog…they probably won’t have close contact with other animals or people.”
Monkeypox, cough or COVID-19:Am I seriously ill or am I living in 2022?
What NOT to do if a pet is infected?
First and foremost, health experts say Americans should not vomit, euthanize, or abandon pets with possible exposure or confirmed monkeypox.
“We saw people give up their pets during COVID, even though the risk was extremely low,” Teller said. “So we don’t want that to happen again with monkeypox.”
The CDC also warns against wiping or washing a pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, or other cleaning agents.
I have monkey pox: how can I protect my pet?
If the pet has not been exposed, Teller recommends asking a friend or family member to care for the pet in a separate home while the person with monkeypox remains in isolation for the duration of their illness.
The CDC recommends not leaving a pet with another caregiver if the person with monkeypox has had close contact with the animal, such as petting, cuddling, cuddling, kissing, licking, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food.
Pets that have been in close contact should be kept at home and away from other animals and people for 21 days. If possible, the CDC recommends another household member to care for the pet.
Monkeypox In Children:Everything to know about symptoms, vaccines and treatments
If an infected pet owner needs to care for their healthy pets during isolation, Teller said the person should wash their hands before and after grooming. She said it is important to wear clothing that covers the rash, gloves and a well-fitting mask.
Owners should also ensure that their pets cannot accidentally come into contact with contaminated materials such as sheets, towels and clothing, the CDC said. It is also important to ensure that the pet’s food, toys, bedding, or other items do not come into direct contact with the owner’s skin or exposed rashes.
Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.