Ebola and Your Pets: Animal Groups Say Don’t Panic

After Spanish officials euthanized the pet dog of an Ebola-infected health worker, U.S. animal groups are urging officials and the public not to rush to the same conclusion.


h1>After Spanish officials euthanized the pet dog of an Ebola-infected health worker due to fears it could spread the deadly virus, U.S. animal groups are urging authorities here and the public not to rush to the same conclusion.

News from Spain that the dog of an Ebola-infected nurse’s aide was put down earlier this month has U.S. animal groups warning people not to panic about the potential of animal disease infection.

“It is important to be vigilant if you live in an area close to an Ebola case, but not to overreact,” Dr. Kwane Stewart, chief veterinary officer of the American Humane Association (AHA), said in a statement. “While some animals in Africa were shown to harbor antibodies after eating infected corpses or other animals, we do not have this situation in the United States, and there is little evidence at this point to indicate transmission from animals to people.”

Excalibur, the dog in Spain, was removed from the health worker’s home, sedated, euthanized, and incinerated, according to news reports. Meanwhile, in the United States, Bentley, the King Charles Spaniel that belongs to Ebola-infected Dallas nurse Nina Pham, has been quarantined at a decommissioned naval air base where he’s being monitored.

At least one major study suggested dogs can spread the disease, according to Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Researchers tested dogs during the 2001-02 Ebola outbreak in Gabon after seeing some of them eating infected dead animals,” Frieden told CBS . “Of the 337 dogs from various towns and villages, nine to 25 percent showed antibodies to Ebola, a sign they were infected or exposed to the virus.”

However, the CDC reported on its website that at this time, there have been no reports of dogs or cats getting Ebola or of their ability to spread the disease. “The chances of a dog or cat being exposed to Ebola virus in the United States [are] very low as they would have to come into contact with blood and body fluids of a symptomatic person sick with Ebola.”

Sharon Curtis Granskog, a spokeswoman for the American Veterinary Medical Association, echoed these thoughts, telling CBS that the chance dogs might spread the disease in the United States is very small.  Both AVMA and AHA have statements and resources on their websites providing information on the issue.

“As with any threat to ourselves or our animals, it is important to know what to do and what not to do,” AHA’s Stewart said.  “At this point there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola even though they may develop antibodies from exposure to the disease. A greater understanding of the effects of Ebola on dogs and cats is needed to help prevent panic and their needless destruction.”


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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