Monkeypox may have spread from owners to dog, report says

The two men in France who own the dog had signs of the disease nearly two weeks before the virus was detected in their pet.

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There are still questions regarding monkeypox’s transmission, but according to a new report, it may have spread from humans to a dog after the first suspected case of such a transmission was recorded recently in Paris.

According to the Washington Post, a report in the medical journal the Lancet revealed that symptoms of monkeypox were detected in a male Italian greyhound 12 days after its owners began exhibiting signs of the disease. Tests confirmed the virus was present.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has since updated its guidance to include dogs among the 10 animals that are susceptible to contracting the virus. While this is the first known instance of an infection in a domesticated animal, Rosamund Lewis, the World Health Organization’s lead on monkeypox, told the Post that the information isn’t surprising.

The first suspected case of monkeypox transmission from human to dog was recently reported in Paris. In this photo, a swab that tested positive for the monkeypox virus is seen at the UW Medicine Virology Laboratory in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

“This is the first incident that we’re learning about where there is human-to-animal transmission,”  Lewis told the Post. “So, on a number of levels, this is new information. It’s not surprising information, and it’s something that we’ve been on the watch out for.”

The 4-year-old greyhound exhibited thin anal ulcers, pustules on its abdomen and lesions on its skin and mucous membranes. It belonged to two men who lived together in a nonexclusive relationship: an HIV-negative 27-year-old and an HIV-positive 44-year-old with undetectable viral levels while taking antiretrovirals.

“The men reported co-sleeping with their dog,” according to the Lancet report. “They had been careful to prevent their dog from contact with other pets or humans from the onset of their own symptoms.”

As previously reported by theGrio, United States health officials declared monkeypox a public health emergency this month after the number of cases topped 7,000. The majority of the cases involve men who have sex with other men. 

Monkeypox is transmitted through direct contact with the skin rash or bodily fluids of an infected person. It also can be spread through respiratory droplets and by touching contaminated objects or surfaces. The most high-risk way to contract the virus is through skin-to-skin contact while engaging in sexual activity or hugging or kissing an infected person. A person living in the same home or sharing the same utensils as an infected person is also at high risk.

As scientists continue to research how the virus’ spread, Lewis said reported findings should encourage pet owners to take precautions.

“Our findings should prompt debate on the need to isolate pets from monkeypox virus-positive individuals,” said Lewis, as reported by the Post.

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