First recorded case of monkeypox spreading from humans to pets
There’s been at least one report of a person with monkeypox who may have passed the virus to a dog.
Now, University of Washington scientists want to know how big a threat this is for pets in the Puget Sound Region.
They’re offering to screen the pets of people in King County who have contracted monkeypox.
Doctor Peter Rabinowitz says that should let researchers know, “how big a problem this is, how many of the pets in households with monkeypox patients are getting infected.”
As of Thursday morning, the Washington State Department of Health reported 392 cases of monkeypox in Washington state with 318 in King County.
Robinowitz says, if you’re concerned about spreading the virus to your pet you should take the same precautions you would take to protect other members of your family.
“You try to stay away and socially distance from that animal and sort of isolate yourself and wait until you are really not infectious before you’re having contact with that animal, or ask somebody else to take care of that pet if you’re potentially infectious,” Robinowitz said.
Admittedly that can be hard to do, but monkeypox is spread by close physical contact, so snuggling and cuddling with your dog is not the best idea.
And because the monkeypox virus can be transmitted through contaminated surfaces, you should keep household items – like food dishes – separate from what your pet is using.
He stresses that there is only one known case of human-to-pet monkeypox transmission and so far no reported cases of people catching it from their pets.
But in an interview provided by UW Medicine, Robinowitz says COVID-19 indicates people need to be cautious.
“We found when we did blood testing for antibodies that about 40% of the animals were showing positive antibodies, meaning they’d been infected with COVID-19 from exposure to people in the household.”
If you’re interested in the study, contact UW Medicine about taking a look at your pets. Right now they’re screening dogs, cats, ferrets, rats, mice, and hamsters – but not monkeys.
It’s illegal to keep a monkey as a pet in Washington state.