The National Health Security Agency recommends that all people infected with the smallpox virus avoid contact with their pets to avoid any risk of transmission.
When a person is infected with the monkey pox virus, they should avoid contact with their pets as much as possible, the French health authorities recommended on Thursday.
A virus that can be transmitted to specific animals
Following the increase in the number of people infected with this virus in many countries outside endemic African territories, including France, the National Health Security Agency (Anses) was acutely seized on the issue of its transmission to animals. In the state of knowledge, lagomorphs, such as rabbits or hares, are susceptible and sensitive under experimental conditions, especially rabbits. The sciurids, including squirrels and prairie dogs, appear to form a susceptible and sensitive family that is possibly the most prone to human contamination. However, possession and sale of these animals is not allowed in France. Pet rodents, such as brown rats, mice, guinea pigs or even hamsters, do not appear to be particularly susceptible to the virus in adulthood, but may be so for the youngest animals. Data are missing for ferrets and dogs. In the case of cats, there is only one serological study with negative results. At this stage, no clinical cases have been reported in these three species.
Recommendations for owners infected with the virus
In light of this data, when a person is infected with the smallpox virus, ANSES recommends“Avoid contact between the animal and the infected person as much as possible, ideally by letting the animal be cared for by another person during the isolation period”. And, “before each contact with his animal”, she advises “wash your hands, then put on gloves and a disposable mask”.
Precautions to be taken by veterinarians
Awaiting further data on pet sensitivity and susceptibility, “the greatest vigilance” also recommended for veterinarians who see animals whose owner is symptomatic. By the end of 2022, new expertise will complete these initial elements. It will concern the assessment of the risk of transmission of viruses to the fauna of peridomas (especially rodents). An assessment will also be made of the risk of virus importation from infected animals.
A disease that is still little known in animals
For veterinarian Thierry Bedossa, the transmission of a virus from one species to another is not unusual. “But once one or more host species of the disease have been identified, there is more concern about it,” notes this animal health professional. “Any individual, whether a mammal or a bird, can serve as a relay for contamination with microorganisms, whether it is a virus or a bacterium.” With regard to monkey cups, the general practitioner specifies that so far no follow-up of an individual from wild animals has been carried out. “DNA traces of the virus have been observed in monkey feces in Africa,” he explains, “but there has been no clinical observation of signs of the disease. The monkeys in question have only been identified as animals carrying the virus.”
The GP who says he understands “recommendations from the health authorities”admits that in his consultations he goes “perhaps start by worrying about and following these recommendations if I have evidence that cases are beginning to be identified in the wildlife population, in the wildlife laboratory population or in the rodent population. But, he concludes,” at the moment it is not the case.”
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