The World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) confirmed Wednesday a dog has been infected with monkeypox through human contact.
Commenting on the first human-to-dog transmission of the virus, Dr Rosamund Lewis, technical lead on the monkeypox response team at the W.H.O., said the case should be heeded as a warning to others.
“This is the first case reported of human-to-animal transmission. This has not been reported before, and we believe it is the first instance of a canine being infected,” Lewis outlined, as AFP reports.
“However, this is has been a theoretical risk – you may see that a number of public health agencies have advised those who contract monkeypox to make every effort to isolate from their pets because of this hypothetical risk – particularly in the household for domestic pets (but also) risks of contamination of animals outside the household, for example, for those accessing garbage and things like that.
“So waste management is critical, isolation is important.”
Dr Mike Ryan, director of the W.H.O.’s Health Emergencies program, said: “In this particular case, transmission to a dog in a closed domestic setting, (with) one animal infected, is not unusual, it’s not unexpected.
“But what we don’t want to see happen is disease moving from one species to the next, and then remaining in that species (and) moving around within a new species because that’s when the virus can adapt, and then adapting to that new species (the virus) is incentivized to evolve as such.”
News of the infection attracted fresh attention after a report from France, published last week in the medical journal Lancet, about an Italian greyhound that caught the virus while living with two gay owners in Paris.
The dog belongs to a couple who said they share a bed with the family pet, AP reports.
The two men were infected with monkeypox after having sex with other partners and wound up with lesions and other symptoms. The greyhound later developed lesions and was diagnosed with the virus.
Monkeypox infections have been detected in rodents and other wild animals, which can spread the virus to humans. But the W.H.O. called it the first report of monkeypox infection in a domesticated animal like a dog or cat.
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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises.