CDC Warns of Human-to-Pets Monkeypox Transmission After Dog Contracts Virus From Owners

The CDC is now offering tips for preventing infection in pets and how to treat them if you believe they have been exposed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its monkeypox transmission guidance to include pets among animals susceptible to catching the virus after the first suspected case of human-to-dog infection was reported in France.

The infection of a domesticated animal was reported in the medical journal The Lancet. According to the report, researchers believe the 4-year-old Italian greyhound got the infection from its owners, who are two gay men who live together and were not sexually exclusive.

Twelve days after they first showed symptoms of monkeypox, their pet dog also developed lesions and tested positive for the virus. The study's authors suggest the dog may have gotten infected while sharing a bed with its owners.

The men told health officials they had been careful to prevent the dog from coming into contact with other humans or pets at the onset of their own monkeypox symptoms.

Can Humans Transmit Monkeypox to Animals?

While monkeypox has been detected in wild animals and rodents, the French case appears to be the first report of an infection in a domesticated animal like a dog or cat.

Transmission to pets can occur through petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking and sharing food, according to the CDC.

How Can You Prevent Monkeypox in Animals?

When possible, if a person with monkeypox did not have close contact with pets after symptoms began, a relative or friend should care for the animals temporarily in a separate home, the CDC suggests. Disinfect a home before bringing back healthy animals.

How to Keep Your Pets Safe From Monkeypox

Pets that come in close contact with someone with monkeypox should be kept at home and away from other animals and people for 21 days, the CDC says. Ideally, infected people should not take care of exposed pets, but if it is necessary, they should wash their hands or use an alcohol-based hand rub before and afterwards. They also should cover any skin rash as best as possible, wear gloves and use a mask or respirator that fits well.

The CDC offers these other tips for caring for pets when they may have been exposed to monkeypox:

  • Do not use chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or products such as hand sanitizer or counter-cleaning wipes on a pet.
  • Do not put a mask on a pet.
  • Keep the pet away from contaminated clothing, sheets and towels.
  • Do not let the pet come into contact with rashes, bandages or body fluids.
  • Be careful not to touch a pet's food, toys or bedding if infected with monkeypox.

If monkeypox is suspected in a pet, get it tested, the CDC recommends. Do not euthanize it. Ask a local public health department about how to dispose of waste.

Monkeypox is a rare virus first discovered in 1958.
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