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Ebola and Pets: Decisions Need to be Made


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There’s an abundance of concern regarding the Ebola virus anyway, it’s scary….and now that people are thinking that dogs  may get the disease, the concern has grown, and not only among pet owners.

There are several reasons for this. While it appears dogs can harbor the Ebola virus, it seems they successfully mount an immune response, and don’t get sick.

Well, that’s kind of worrisome to people, adding to the unknown element already there regarding the Ebola virus. Also, experts don’t have any idea whether or not dogs can spread the virus to other dogs, cats or to people.

Experts suggest the likelihood of even a small-scale Ebola outbreak is the U.S. is miniscule, but if it occurs – people may be reluctant to get treatment early on for fear of what is going to happen to their pet(s).

The Spanish government recently took a surprising step by ordering that the dog belonging to an Ebola patient to be euthanized. Aside from impacting the already upset family, not nearly as much can be learned from a dead dog compared to studying one that is alive. The dog could have been quarantined, which is currently the course taken to care for stricken Dallas, TX health care worker  Nina Pham’s dog — a King Charles Spaniel named Bentley.

The dog is safe at  undisclosed location and is under the care of Dallas Animal Services. The dog will observed, studied, and to the best of the caretakers’ ability, spoiled. Pham’s family has spoken about how much her dog means to Nina, but there are other reasons why it’s beneficial that the dog is kept alive.

Human health isn’t in it’s own little bubble. The term one-health applies to Ebola in many ways….The issue is International (not only West Africa’s), and it’s more than about human beings.

It turns out West African fruit bat species (which are eaten as a soup in places in West Africa) may have been the point of origination, or ‘Ground Zero’ for Ebola. While it’s not likely the bats become ill,  by eating the infected bats (even in a soup) people became ill. Once that happened, the virulent disease spread among people.

No surprise veterinarians are now a key part of the CDC task force on this issue. The American Veterinary Medical Association created an Ebola information page to keep pet owners and animal lovers up to date.

Anderson Cooper of CNN addressed the issue of pets and Ebola, and made many of the same points.

Here’s another CNN report:

 

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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