The evidence of spread from humans to dogs, published in The Lancet, could lead to further guidance on how pets should be cared for if they are in a living space with an infected person, Rosamund Lewis, head of the World Health Organization monkey pox. he told the Washington Post on Monday.
Monkey pox is generally transmitted from human to human through direct contact with infectious rashes, scabs, or body fluids. It can also be spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, hugging or sex.
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The potential case of human-to-dog transmission was discovered in a 4-year-old Italian greyhound 12 days after its owners developed symptoms of monkeypox, according to the Lancet report.
The dog had lesions on the skin and mucous membranes, pustules on the abdomen and a thin anal ulceration. Medical staff compared one of the dog owners’ infections with the one found in the animal.
Investigators said the dog belonged to two men who were in a non-exclusive cohabiting relationship. One of the partners is a 44-year-old man, and his partner is a 27-year-old man, according to the report.
The couple reported that they let their dog sleep in bed with them and that they had prevented their pet from being in contact with other humans and pets based on the onset of his own symptoms.
Monkeypox has been roaring through communities of men who have sex with men, raising anxiety and concern in cities with large populations of gay and bisexual men, prompting the WHO to advise such groups to limit sexual partners to reduce the risk of exposure.
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About 99 percent of monkeypox cases worldwide are in men, and 98 percent of those cases involve men who have sex with men, Lewis said Monday, shortly after the report came out Lancet.
Lewis also addressed the transmission of the monkeypox virus between humans and animals, sharing that there have been cases of people receiving the virus from recently acquired pets.
“This is the first incident that we are learning about where there is human-to-animal transmission,” he said of the Lancet report’s findings. “So, on a number of levels, this is new information. It’s not surprising information, and it’s something we’ve been keeping an eye on.”
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In the report, the researchers called for more research into secondary transmissions through pets.
“Our results should prompt a debate about the need to isolate pets from monkeypox virus-positive individuals,” they said.
Lewis said the messages have encouraged people to isolate their pets from family members who may be infected with monkeypox, a precautionary approach as scientists continue to study the spread of the virus, he said.
“So again, we don’t know if that dog can go on to spread the infection to someone else, for example,” he said. “This is an example where most pets will not be at risk. They can only be those that are actually in the home of someone who is infected.”