An Italian greyhound tested positive for monkey pox in Paris after its owners contracted the virus.
The owners developed pus-filled blisters and a fever 12 days before the dog also developed a rash.
A veterinary virologist said human-to-dog transmission is likely to be rare and not a major threat.
Investigators described the first suspected case of monkeypox in a dog sharing a bed with its contagious owners, and the case, which raised new questions for researchers about human-to-animal transmission.
The dog owners, two men in a non-exclusive partnership, began developing monkey pox symptoms in late May when they presented themselves at a hospital in Paris, according to a report published Aug. 10 in the Lancet.
Both men developed a fever, fatigue and headache after noticing pus-filled blisters on their bodies. They were careful to avoid contact with other people from the onset of their symptoms, and they also quarantined their 4-year-old Italian Greyhound.
The dog developed pus-filled blisters on his abdomen and a small anal lesion about 12 days after the people in the house started showing symptoms. Tests showed that both the men and the dog were infected with the identical monkeypox virus.
Monkeypox is known to infect a wide variety of mammals, and scientists are still learning which species can transmit the virus. Before this case, there were no reports of sick people spreading monkeypox on animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This is the first case that we’re aware of, at least in the western world during this latest outbreak, so it’s clearly not something that happens very easily,” Colin Parrish, a professor of veterinary virology at Cornell University , Insider told.
Overflow infections in dogs are likely to be rare
Parrish said human-to-dog transmission, or vice versa, is unlikely to pose a major risk in monkeypox outbreaks.
“At this point there is no evidence that dogs will become a standing infected host for monkeypox,” he said.
It is more likely to be a rare spillover infection, in which a virus has jumped to a new host outside of its primary host species. Dogs and cats are known to contract flu viruses that typically infect humans, but infections in pets are uncommon, Insider previously reported.
If viruses could easily spread between humans and dogs, there would be many more shared diseases between humans and their pets, Parrish said.
Still, the case shows that there is a need for further research into the transmission of monkeypox to and from pets, the authors of the Lancet report concluded. While there isn’t enough information to say that dogs are secondary hosts for the virus, it is worth considering how pet owners should self-isolate if they get monkey pox.
Use your common sense
Dog owners who get monkey pox don’t need to panic or send their pets away, but they should take sensible precautions to avoid close contact, Parrish said.
“Sharing a bed or having close contact with the animal certainly wouldn’t be advised, but I’d say you can keep the dog in the house,” he said. “As long as the dog doesn’t come into contact with the lesions, you’ll probably be fine.”
The CDC says people with monkey pox should avoid contact with animals, including pets and wildlife, to avoid spreading the virus. The agency does not recommend vomiting, euthanizing, or abandoning pets just because of a potential exposure or case of monkey pox. Instead, avoid cuddling, kissing, and sharing sleeping areas or food with pets while you are contagious.
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