CDC Reports First Case of Human-to-Dog Monkeypox Transmission

The virus, which has been declared a public health emergency in the U.S., was detected in a French greyhound whose humans are infected

Dogs are susceptible to monkeypox, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged, and a new report details the first-known case of possible human-to-dog transmission, validating the World Health Organization’s previous advice to isolate pets from infected individuals.

“So this has been a theoretical risk to up until now,” Rosamund Lewis, WHO’s lead on monkeypox, told the Washington Post on Monday. “This is the first incident that we’re learning about where there is human to animal transmission. This has not been reported before, and it has not been reported that dogs have been infected before.”

She added, “The messaging that has been given up until now was that pets should be isolated from the family members who may be infected… It was a reasonable cautious message to give. And now we have the first incident where this has actually occurred.”

According to health journal the Lancet, a four-year-old male Italian greyhound, with no previous medical disorders, tested positive for monkeypox virus 12 days after the owners began experiencing symptoms, including anal ulceration followed a vesiculopustular rash on the face, ears, and legs in one of the men, and on the legs and back of the other. In both cases, rash was associated with asthenia, headaches, and fever for four days.

The dog displayed mucocutaneous lesions, including abdomen pustules and a thin anal ulceration.

The owners, two non-exclusive male partners who live together and have sex with other men, reported co-sleeping with their dog while preventing the domestic animal from contact with other pets or humans after the onset of their own symptoms.

The men attended the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, France this past June, and signed a consent form for the use of their clinical and biological data, as well as photographic evidence of their symptoms, to be studied and published to better understand the latest outbreak of this virus.

“The kinetics of symptom onset in both patients and, subsequently, in their dog suggest human-to-dog transmission of monkeypox virus,” the report states.

The Lancet continues, “Our findings should prompt debate on the need to isolate pets from monkeypox virus-positive individuals. We call for further investigation on secondary transmissions via pets.”

As of Monday, the CDC reported 11,890 confirmed cases in the United States, with 1,945 cases in California. That’s about double the case load reported nationally and in this state since California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency on Aug. 1 in order to “bolster the state’s vaccination efforts” against monkeypox.

“Whether domesticated cats and dogs could be a vector for monkeypox virus is unknown,” state the Lancet report authors, whose work was supported by the French National Research Agency on HIV/Aids, Hepatitis and Emerging Infectious Diseases.

According to the CDC, “Infected animals can spread Monkeypox virus to people, and it is possible that people who are infected can spread Monkeypox virus to animals through close contact, including petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food.”

Lewis clarified that there isn’t enough data yet available to state with any certainty if a “dog can go and transmit the infection to anyone else,” and said, “This is an example where most pets will not be at risk. It may only be those who are actually in the household of someone who’s infected.”

She cautioned that while data shows 99 percent of Monkeypox cases occur in men, with 98 percent being among men who have sex with men, “that doesn’t mean that this group is responsible for the outbreak.”

Lewis added, “It doesn’t mean that they should be stigmatized. It’s really about offering services where they need to be offered and to whom they need to be offered.”

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