Why monkey pox-positive should avoid contact with pets

Monkey cups in Italy and Europe

Experts fear that the virus could be transmitted from humans to the most susceptible species, with the risk that the virus could become established in European wildlife.

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Monkey cups in Italy and Europe

People who are positive about monkey pox should avoid contact with pets for 21 days. The UK health authorities recommend it, where 106 cases of monkey pox in humans have been confirmed so far. Although no livestock infections have been suspected or detected to date, and the definition of the risk of transmission of the virus from humans to other susceptible species remains low, experts are concerned that “monkey cups can be spread among pets and basically play ping pong between them and humans Said Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick. If we are not careful, we run the risk of creating an animal reservoir for the disease that could spread it to humans, leading to a cycle of infection.“.

transfer of monkey cups

Monkey pox virus is known to mainly affect rodents, especially squirrels, rats and mice, but it can also be transmitted to hamsters and gerbils, which can be particularly susceptible to the disease. In the UK, according to sales figures, there are around 2 million households that have a domestic rodent of some sort in their homes, so the UK Health Agency (UKHSA) and other health authorities recommend hamsters, guinea pigs and other pet rodents be removed from monkey-positive homes and tested for the disease. .

Health authorities also recommend placing other pets, such as dogs and cats, in home isolation and performing regular veterinary checks to “ensure that no clinical signs of infection are observed”. According to the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), people infected with the virus should avoid “where possible” preparing food or caring for their pets if it can be done by a senior person in the family.

The risk of animal reservoirs in Europe

A paper published this week by the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) states that rodents belonging to patients with monkey pox should “ideally” be isolated in facilities that are monitored and tested for the disease before the end of the period. Animals should only be killed as a last resort, in situations where isolation is not possible, the document states. Larger pets, such as dogs, could be quarantined at home with regular health checks.

At present, experts point out, little is known about how monkey pox can spread to pets, but rodents and some species of squirrels are more likely to contract and transmit the disease, easily than humans. The ECDC says a “spillover” event in which a human infects a pet could potentially lead to the virus taking hold in European wildlife, even though it describes the risk as “very low”.

In other words, the concern is that monkey pox may become an “endemic zoonosis,” meaning a disease that jumps between different animal species and is constantly present in new animal populations. As a precautionary measure, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stresses that all mammals should be considered susceptible to monkey pox, as it is not currently known which animal species may be infected. . In general, transmission from animal to animal can occur through respiratory droplets, inhalation of aerosolized virus or organic material containing virus particles, contact with damaged skin, or ingestion of infected animal tissue.

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