I thought it would be helpful to help dispel some of the myths concerning Ebola and our pets, now that several people in the United States have been diagnosed with Ebola. While information exists to suggest that the virus may be found in several kinds of animals, the CDC, US Department of Agriculture, and the AVMA do not believe that pets are at significant risk for Ebola in the United States. The natural reservoir host of Ebola has not yet been confirmed, but scientist believe that the first patient in an outbreak becomes infected by contact with a fruit bat (not found in the United States) or a primate. Person to person transmission follows. Animals have not been found to be a factor in the current West African epidemic. Infection occurs through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids, medical equipment contaminated with the virus, handling of bush meat, and contact with an infected bat or primate. There is no evidence that insects can transmit the virus. At this time there are no reports of cats or dogs becoming sick with Ebola or being able to spread Ebola to other people or animals. If a pet had close contact with an Ebola patient, the CDC currently recommends that local health official working in collaboration with a veterinarian, evaluate the pet’s risk of exposure to the virus to determine how that pet should be handled.
I hope this information helps with any concerns our clients may have. As always, feel free to contact us with any specific questions or concerns.
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.