Understanding Ebola: Fear is high but risk is minimal


Ebola Facts

The relative risk of exposure to the Ebola virus in the U.S. is extremely low, as there have been only a small number of isolated human cases and no known animal cases to date.

Although Ebola is a zoonotic disease, there has not been evidence of its transmission to humans from dogs. According to
the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), it is not even known if dogs are capable of contracting and then transmitting the disease.

Risk is highest for healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola
patients because
they may come in contact with the blood or body fluids of sick patients. People also can become sick with Ebola after coming in contact with infected wildlife. CDC says, for example, in Africa, Ebola may spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. The virus
also can be spread through contact with objects (like clothes, bedding, needles, syringes/sharps or medical equipment) that have been contaminated with the virus or with infected animals

You can only get Ebola from:

Touching the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola.
Touching contaminated objects, like needles.
Touching infected animals, their blood or other body fluids, or their meat.

Ebola poses no significant risk to the United States.

 

Brief history of Ebola virus:

Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The CDC says since then, outbreaks of Ebola among humans have appeared sporadically in Africa.

All cases of human illness or death from Ebola have occurred in Africa (with the exception of several laboratory contamination cases in England and Russia) until the recent travel-associated case involving the now late Thomas Eric Duncan who exhibited symptoms after arriving in Dallas from Liberia. A healthcare worker who cared for Duncan in Dallas and a nurse's aid in Spain who cared for two Ebola patients from West Africa have subsequently contracted the virus and are receiving treatment.

CDC protocol for rare cases of pet exposure to the Ebola virus: The CDC recommends that if a pet is in the home of an Ebola patient, veterinarians, in collaboration with public health officials, should evaluate the pet's risk of exposure (close contact and exposure to blood or body fluids of an Ebola patient). Appropriate measures, such as closely monitoring the exposed pet while using necessary precautions, should be taken based on that evaluation.

Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Can dogs get infected or sick with Ebola?

At this time, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola or of being able to spread Ebola to people or other animals. Even in areas in Africa where Ebola is present, there have been no reports of dogs and cats becoming sick with Ebola. There is limited evidence that dogs become infected with Ebola virus, but there is no evidence that they develop disease.

Here in the United States, are our dogs and cats at risk of becoming sick with Ebola?

The risk of an Ebola outbreak affecting multiple people in the United States is very low. Therefore, the risk to pets is also very low, as they would have to come into contact with blood and body fluids of a person with Ebola. Even in areas in Africa where Ebola is present, there have been no reports of dogs and cats becoming sick with Ebola.

Can I get Ebola from my dog or cat?

At this time, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola or of being able to spread Ebola to people or animals. The chances of a dog or cat being exposed to Ebola virus in the United States is very low as the animal would have to come into contact with blood and body fluids of a symptomatic person sick with Ebola.

Can my pet's body, fur, or paws spread Ebola to a person?

We do not yet know whether or not a pet's body, paws, or fur can pick up and spread Ebola to people or other animals. It is important to keep people and animals away from blood or body fluids of a person with symptoms of Ebola infection.

What if there is a pet in the home of an Ebola patient?

CDC recommends that public health officials in collaboration with a veterinarian evaluate the pet's risk
of exposure to the virus (close contact or exposure to evaluation as well as the specific situation, local and state human and animal health officials will determine how the pet should be handled.

Can I get my dog or cat tested for Ebola?

There would not be any reason to test a dog or cat for Ebola if there was no exposure to a person infected with Ebola. Currently, routine testing for Ebola is not available for pets.

What are the requirements for bringing pets or other animals into the United States from West Africa?

CDC regulations require that dogs and cats imported into the United States be healthy. Dogs must be vaccinated against rabies before arrival into the United States. Monkeys and African rodents are not allowed to be imported as pets under any circumstances. Each state and U.S. Territory has its own rules for
pet ownership and importation, and these rules may be different from federal regulations. Airlines may have
additional requirements.

Can monkeys spread Ebola?

Yes, monkeys are at risk for Ebola. Symptoms of Ebola infection in monkeys include fever, decreased appetite,
and sudden death. Monkeys should not be allowed to have contact with anyone who may have Ebola. Healthy
monkeys already living in the United States and without exposure to a person infected with Ebola are not at risk for spreading Ebola.

Can bats spread Ebola?

Fruit bats in Africa are considered to be a natural reservoir for Ebola. Bats in North America are not known to carry Ebola and so CDC considers the risk of an Ebola outbreak from bats occurring in the United States to be very low. However, bats are known to carry rabies and other diseases here in the United States. To reduce the risk of disease transmission, never attempt to touch a bat, living or dead.

Where can I find more information about Ebola and pet dogs and cats?

CDC is currently working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Veterinary Medical Association,
and many other partners to develop additional guidance for the U.S. pet population. Additional information and guidance will be posted at dvm360.com and avma.org as soon as it becomes available.

Source: American Veterinary Medical Association

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