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Monkeypox can spread from humans to pet dogs, medical experts warn

Published: Updated:

Health officials are warning that people with monkeypox risk passing on the fast-spreading disease to their pet dogs.

The warnings come after a new report in medical journal The Lancet unveiled details about an Italian greyhound that had caught the virus from his owner.

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The authors of the report said the dog belongs to a couple who said they had been “co-sleeping” with the pet in their residences in Paris, France.

After the owners developed monkeypox symptoms, the greyhound also began presenting similar symptoms 13 days later, The Lancet reported.

The pet developed lesions which were swabbed via a PCR test and subsequently tested positive for monkeypox.

Though there is prior evidence that wild animals such as rodents can get monkeypox, this is reportedly the first known case of a pet dog contracting the monkeypox virus via human transmission.

More research is needed to understand the disease trajectory in dogs; however, the evidence suggests people infected with monkeypox should isolate from their pets, according to researchers.

The report also suggests that infected people who have lesions can shed infectious virus onto bedding, which can then pass the virus to others.

Pets that come in close contact with a symptomatic person should be kept at home and away from other animals and people for 21 days after the most recent contact, the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises.

WHO seeks to rename monkeypox

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization announced it is looking to rename monkeypox and has called for help from the public in coming up with a less stigmatizing designation for the fast-spreading disease.

The UN health agency has for weeks voiced concern about the name of the disease that emerged onto the global stage in May.

Experts warn the name can be stigmatizing to the primates it was named after, but who play little role in its spread, and to the African continent that the animals are often associated with.

Recently in Brazil, for instance, there have been reported cases of people attacking monkeys over disease fears.

“Human monkeypox was given its name before current best practices in naming diseases,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told reporters in Geneva.

“We want really to find a name that is not stigmatizing” she added, saying the consultation is now open to everyone through a dedicated website.

Monkeypox received its name because the virus was originally identified in monkeys kept for research in Denmark in 1958, but the disease is found in several animals, and most frequently in rodents.

The disease was first discovered in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the spread among humans since then mainly limited to certain West and Central African countries where it is endemic.

But in May, cases of the disease, which causes fever, muscular aches and large boil-like skin lesions, began spreading rapidly around the world.

Worldwide, over 31,000 cases have been confirmed since the start of the year, and 12 people have died, according to the WHO, which has designated the outbreak a global health emergency.

While the virus can jump from animals to humans, WHO experts insist the recent global spread is due to close-contact transmission between humans.

Read more:

WHO seeks to rename monkeypox virus

Foreigners flock to Canada for monkeypox vaccine

US declares monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency

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