Scientists recently reported that people with monkeypox may have passed the virus to their pet dog.
This potential case of human-to-dog transmission is the first time monkeypox infection has been observed in a dog, and the first time an animal has been suspected of monkeypox from an infected human.
“This is the first incident that we are learning about where human-to-animal transmission is,” said Rosamund Lewis, WHO head of monkeypox. So, on a number of levels, this is new information. It’s not surprising information, and it’s something we’ve been putting up with.”
Lewis added that it is important to note that at this point, it is not known whether an infected dog can transmit monkeypox virus to humans. Describing the first case of its kind, published August 10 in The Lancet, the researchers called for “further investigation of secondary transmissions through pets,” meaning cases in which an infected pet transmits the virus to other people.
The latest case involved two men who were examined at a hospital in Paris, France in early June, and the men are non-exclusive partners living in the same household. Both developed symptoms of monkeypox — including rash, fatigue, headache and fever — about six days after having sex with other people.
Since the beginning of the monkeypox outbreak, cases of infection have been largely concentrated among men who have sex with men, but this trend does not indicate that the virus is spread exclusively through sexual activity or that MSM are particularly vulnerable to infection. Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or behavior, can catch and spread the virus.
Most often, monkeypox spreads from person to person through direct contact with an infected person’s skin rashes, scales, or body fluids, including pus, mucus, and saliva, or with substances contaminated with bodily fluids, such as clothing or linens.
This contact can occur during sex, but it can also occur during close non-sexual contact. The virus can also spread through respiratory droplets—small droplets of saliva and mucus—that are expelled from the mouth; This path of transmission becomes more likely during “prolonged” face-to-face contact or intimate physical contact, such as kissing.
Twelve days after the two men contracted monkeypox, their 4-year-old Italian dog developed multiple lesions on the skin and mucous membranes, including large pus-filled blisters on its stomach and ulcers in the anus. Then the dog was confirmed to have monkeypox in a diagnostic test, and genetic analysis revealed that the virus that infected one of the men was completely identical to the virus that infected the dog.
The patients said they let the dog sleep in their bed, but that after their monkeypox symptoms developed, they were careful not to let the dog interact with any humans or other animals. The dog’s symptoms developed about 13 days after the onset of symptoms in the men.
“To our knowledge, the kinetics of symptom onset in both patients, and thus in their dog, suggests human-to-dog transmission of monkeypox virus,” the researchers wrote in their report.
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