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Pets and Ebola Virus

Posted January 23, 2015 @ 9:45am | by Janine Barnes, AERC Marketing Assistant

What is Ebola?
Ebola virus is an infectious and sometimes fatal disease. Symptoms typically include a fever and severe internal bleeding. On March 23, 2014, Ebola virus became a global concern when reports surfaced in West Africa. Ebola virus has claimed over 7,500 lives.

How is Ebola spread?
Ebola virus is spread by direct contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. It can also be spread by infected needles or syringes. Also, handling or eating the meat of an infected animal can infect a person. Ebola virus cannot spread through air, water, or touch.

Should I be worried about Ebola virus?
Ebola virus is mainly present in West Africa. However, there have been reports in the United States. Since hearing of these reports, many people living in North America have wondered if it’s possible to become infected. If you have not been in contact with an infected person’s blood or bodily fluids, then you do not have to worry about becoming infected.

Do animals spread Ebola virus?
Currently, there is very little information about animals and Ebola virus. As of right now, fruit bats and primates in Africa are the only animals infected. Known symptoms of Ebola virus in monkeys include fever, decreased appetite, and sudden death. If your pet experiences these symptoms, it is not likely he/she has ebola virus. Talk to your veterinarian if your pet is experiencing similar symptoms.

There is no sign of any other wildlife, insects, or other animals carrying the virus. Monkeys, bats, and other animal in the United States are not at risk of carrying the virus unless there was direct contact with an infected person or animal.

Can my pet become infected?
As of right now, Ebola virus is not present in any domestic livestock or pets in North America. According to studies in West Africa where Ebola virus is of higher concern, dogs develop antibodies when exposed to Ebola, suggesting that they may not even become sick or they may only develop a mild infection. There are no reports of dogs or cats in Africa having signs of Ebola virus. Since the risk of a human becoming infected with Ebola in the United States is low, the risk for pets and animals in North America is even lower. As long as pets have not come in contact with an infected person, they are not at risk.

For animals that have been exposed to Ebola virus, it is not clear if they can shed the virus. Since there is not a lot of information about the Ebola virus or potential hosts for the virus, it is reasonable to quarantine any pet that you may be concerned about whether or not he/she has had direct contact with a carrier of Ebola virus.

If you know someone who has Ebola virus, it is best for you and any pets to not come in contact with the exposed person’s blood or body fluids. Currently, there is no way to test pets for Ebola virus. 

 

 More information:

American Veterinary Medical Association

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

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