As monkeypox continues to rise in the US, it’s absurd to wonder what dangers our furry friends are facing at home with their infected owners.
The bad news: According to the CDC, we don’t know if dogs or cats can get monkeypox from people. However, people can spread the virus to shared animals by petting, cuddling, sharing sleeping areas and food, and kissing.
Dogs and cats can be infected with other orthopoxviruses, such as the vaccinia virus used in smallpox/monkeypox vaccines, but this is not a concern.
It is not known whether common pets such as gerbils, guinea pigs and hamsters can contract the virus. The CDC says that pets can become infected just like adult rabbits, mice and rats. Chinchillas and hedgehogs, other less popular pets, can handle monkeys.
Monkeypox is not endemic in the United States, meaning it does not spread naturally in animals such as rodents as it does in Africa, where the virus sometimes jumps to people they bite or scratch.
According to the agency, there are no confirmed cases of people infected with monkeypox in livestock. The last time pets contracted monkeypox was in 2003 in the United States. As a result, about 70 people became ill in the Midwest of the United States.
The American Veterinary Medical Association also says the chance of giving your pet monkeypox is “extremely low.”
“To date, there is no evidence that dogs and cats can be infected or serve as reservoirs for monkeypox,” said Dr. Kathryn Quesenberry, chief medical officer at Schwartzman Animal Medical Center in New York. “That doesn’t mean the risk is zero, but it’s highly unlikely.”
Carlos Romero, M.D., professor emeritus of infectious diseases and immunology at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, says it’s unlikely your pet will catch monkeypox while walking or walking in the park.
This does not mean that infected people should not take precautions around their pets.
“We have no data on what monkeypox has done to domestic animals in this country,” Romero said. “It’s a big question mark, but it’s cause for concern and it’s possible because of what we’ve seen before in other species.”
What to do with pets if monkey pox
People with monkeypox should avoid contact with pets, as well as wild animals, to prevent the spread of the virus, according to the CDC and experts we spoke with. If you have monkeypox, you should keep them away from your bandages or bodily fluids.
If you’re the only one caring for your pets, it’s a good idea to wash your hands before and after touching them. As an extra precaution, cover any rashes or sores with long sleeves, long pants, or gloves. The CDC also recommends wearing a mask around your pets; Although the virus is mainly spread by skin-to-skin contact, it is also found in respiratory droplets and saliva.
If possible, pets should be kept in a different home until they are healed, unless you have close contact with them.
Before welcoming your pet, be sure to disinfect any laundry, bedding, towels, toys, or food bowls that you may touch.
Romero said that monkeypox is a very “resilient virus” and difficult to eradicate because it is extremely resistant to different environmental conditions. “It can lie protected for weeks, unlike the coronavirus, which is destroyed in minutes.”
The CDC reports that researchers have found that live monkeypox virus can persist in an infected person’s home for up to 15 days after they leave. Research also shows that other orthopoxviruses can survive in the home for weeks or months, and that viruses can survive longer on porous materials such as bedding and clothing than on non-porous ones such as plastic, glass and metal viruses.
However, the virus is sensitive to soaps, disinfectants, detergents and other cleaning products, the CDC says. A simple wipe or wash should remove it.
What to do if your pet has rabies
If your pet is exposed to monkeypox, the CDC recommends that they stay indoors and away from other people and animals for at least 21 days.
Some people, including those who are pregnant, immunocompromised, nursing young children, or those with atopic dermatitis or eczema, should not care for an animal with monkeypox because they are at risk of developing severe disease.
If it is not obvious, do not rub or bathe your infected pet with chemical disinfectants, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, hand sanitizers, wipes, or other potentially dangerous non-animal cleaning products.
Experts don’t know exactly what monkeypox looks like in dogs and cats, but they suspect it’s similar to symptoms in humans and other infectious diseases, such as:
- low energy
- Lack of appetite
- A discharge or crust from the nose or eyes
- Sores or rashes that look like acne or blisters
- Flu symptoms such as cough, runny nose, fever and red eyes
If you think your pet has monkeypox, you should call your veterinarian or local health officials so they can investigate the source of the infection (if it’s not you).
Can people or pets spread monkeypox to other animals?
We have learned that during the ongoing COVID pandemic, humans can transmit the coronavirus to pets and wild animals, including lions, deer, tigers, dogs, cats, raccoons, coyotes, and hippos.
Fortunately, human-to-animal transmission of COVID, as well as animal-to-animal transmission, has not resulted in a new reservoir around the coronavirus as we know it. But it is logical to at least consider the possibility of monkeypox.
Fortunately, experts are not convinced that we should worry about this.
“It’s a long shot at this point,” Romero said. “Someone would have to do something pretty crazy to infect wild rodents, I can’t think of what.”
Quesenberry said he’s not saying there’s no risk, but there’s no evidence that monkeypox could happen if it gets out of control.
As of August. 4, there are 6,617 cases of monkeypox in the United States, and 26,208 cases worldwide.