Ebola and Pets- Memphis Area Pet Health and Wellness
From Your Veterinarian
Fear is high, but risk is minimal
- The relative risk of exposure to the Ebola virus in the U.S. is extremely low, as there have been only a small number of isolated human cases and no known animal cases to date.
- Although Ebola is a zoonotic disease, there has not been evidence of its transmission to humans from dogs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is not even known if dogs are capable of contracting and then transmitting the disease.
- Risk is highest for healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients because they may come in contact with the blood or body fluids of sick patients. People also can become sick with Ebola after coming in contact with infected wildlife. CDC says, for example, in Africa, Ebola may spread as a result of handling bush meat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. The virus also can be spread through contact with objects (like clothes, bedding, needles, syringes/sharps or medical equipment) that have been contaminated with the virus or with infected animals.
Brief history of Ebola virus:
- Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The CDC says since then, outbreaks of Ebola among humans have appeared sporadically in Africa.
- All cases of human illness or death from Ebola have occurred in Africa (with the exception of several laboratory contamination cases in England and Russia) until the recent travel-associated case involving the now late Thomas Eric Duncan who exhibited symptoms after arriving in Dallas from Liberia. A healthcare worker who cared for Duncan in Dallas and a nurse’s aid in Spain who cared for two Ebola patients from West Africa have subsequently contracted the virus and are receiving treatment.
You can only get Ebola from:
- Touching the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola.
- Touching contaminated objects, like needles.
- Touching infected animals, their blood or other body fluids, or their meat.
Ebola currently poses no significant risk to the United States.
CDC protocol for rare cases of pet exposure to the Ebola virus:
The CDC recommends that if a pet is in the home of an Ebola patient, veterinarians, in collaboration with public health officials, should evaluate the pet’s risk of exposure (close contact and exposure to blood or body fluids of an Ebola patient). Appropriate measures, such as closely monitoring the exposed pet while using necessary precautions, should be taken based on that evaluation.
Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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