A dog was diagnosed with monkeypox, shortly after its owners had been infected themselves, making it possibly the first case of human-to-animal transmission of the virus. The dog, a four-year-old Italian greyhound, was sharing the same bed with its owners at their home in France, according to a report in the medical journal The Lancet. The WHO’s technical lead on the monkeypox response, Dr Rosamund Lewis noted that the risk of human-to-animal transmission had only been theoretical until now.
According to the report, the two men, who lived together and were in a non-exclusive relationship, had been diagnosed with the disease at a hospital in Paris in early June.
Twelves days after the men began showing symptoms, they noted that the dog had been developing similar symptoms, like lesions.
The dog, who was tested to confirm having the same strain of monkeypox as the owners, had been kept away from other humans and animals since the men began experiencing symptoms, long before the dog did.
The authors wrote: “To the best of our knowledge, the kinetics of symptom onset in both patients and, subsequently, in their dog, suggest human-to-dog transmission of monkeypox virus.
“Given the dog’s skin and mucosal lesions as well as the positive monkeypox virus PCR results from anal and oral swabs, we hypothesise a real canine disease, not a simple carriage of the virus by close contact with humans or airborne transmission (or both).
“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.”
Dr Lewis noted that until now, only animal-to-human transmissions of the virus were reported after people in the US were infected with the virus through pet prairie dogs.
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She said: “The messaging that has been given up until now is that pets should be isolated from the family members who may be infected.
“This has been an example of precautionary approach, precautionary messaging, because we didn’t have the information that this had ever happened before, it had not been reported before, but it was a reasonable, cautious message to give.
“And now we have the first incident where this has actually occurred.”