Monkey pox: what are the risks for animals?

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Usually circulating in Central and West Africa, the MonkeyPox virus, responsible for monkey pox, is now present on several continents such as Europe and North America. According to the WHO, “a total of 2,103 confirmed cases, one probable case and one death (Nigeria, editor’s note) were reported to WHO in 42 countries” between January 1 and June 15, 2022.

The progress of this zoonosis (an infectious disease that passed from animals to humans) leads some to ask a question: can humans transmit smallpox from monkeys to animals?

MonkeyPox: which species can be contaminated by humans?

“In the available scientific literature, data on the susceptibility of pets to monkeypox are very limited, even absent“, underlines the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES). However, it has been able to identify several species that can be infected by humans.

  • The lagomorphs, : These are rabbits or hares. ANSES note that they are “responsive (ability to harbor the virus without necessarily developing symptoms, editor’s note) and sensitive (ability to express clinical signs, editor’s note) under experimental conditions, in particular rabbits”.
  • The sciurids (squirrels, prairie dogs…): they seem to be receptive and sensitive, “possibly the most at risk of contamination by humans. However, the possession and sale of these animals is not authorized in France”, recalls the agency.
  • The pet rodents such as mice, guinea pigs or even hamsters: adult animals are not very receptive to the virus, but the youngest could be according to the studies carried out.

Data are lacking for ferrets and dogs. Concerning cats, only one serological study exists with negative results. At this stage, no clinical cases have been reported in these three species“, indicates ANSES in an article published on June 16 on its website.

Pets: recommendations to protect them

If current scientific knowledge is rather reassuring on the Risks of Monkeypox Transmission in Dogs and CatsANSES nevertheless gave preventive recommendations to owners infected with the MonkeyPox virus to limit the risks to their pets.

  • them contact between the animal and the infected person must be avoided as much as possible: “ideally by having your animal looked after by another person for the duration of the isolation”, specify the experts. ;
  • to wash hands, wear gloves and a disposable mask before each contact with the beast.

“These recommendations may be refined based on new data, says ANSES. Pending additional data on the sensitivity and receptivity of pets, the greatest vigilance is recommended to veterinarians receiving in consultation animals whose owner is symptomatic. This will help detect any early signs of the virus passing from human to animal.”

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