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Monkeypox May Spread to Pets - CDC

FILE: Representative illustration of a pet dog. Taken 7.19.2022

UPDATED Health officials are warning people who are infected with monkeypox to stay away from household pets, since the animals could be at risk of catching the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for months has had the advice in place as monkeypox spreads in the U.S. But it gained new attention after a report from France, published last week in the medical journal Lancet, about an Italian greyhound that caught the virus.

The dog belongs to a couple who said they sleep alongside the animal. The two men were infected with monkeypox after having sex with other partners and wound up with lesions and other symptoms. The greyhound later developed lesions and was diagnosed with the virus.

The World Health Organization joined the CDC Wednesday fin calling for people infected with monkeypox to avoid exposing animals to the virus following a first reported case of human-to-dog transmission.

This is the first case reported of human-to-animal transmission... and we believe it is the first instance of a canine being infected," Rosamund Lewis, the WHO's technical lead for monkeypox, told reporters.

She also said "waste management is critical" to lowering the risk of contaminating rodents and other animals outside the household.

Jeff Doty, Disease Ecologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said "You know, reducing contact with the animal to necessary things such as providing food and water. We would obviously recommend that people don't sleep with their animals if they have monkeypox. And reducing other types of close contact, such as hugging, snuggling, kissing and licking and that kind of thing."

Monkeypox infections have been detected in rodents and other wild animals, which can spread the virus to humans. But the authors called it the first report of monkeypox infection in a domesticated animal like a dog or cat.

Doty says common sense should guide human-to-animal contact, but so far there is no alarm bell ringing over pets.

"I would say this is definitely not a reason to panic. This is an isolated case so far. But, you know, there are more and more human cases develop. We could see changes and start seeing more infections in animals. And so I think it's important to get the messaging out that reducing transmission between humans and animals is really important."

Pets that come in close contact with a symptomatic person should be kept at home and away from other animals and people for 21 days after the most recent contact, the CDC advises.

This report was compiled using information provided by Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.