Ebola Virus and our Pets
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the information they have to offer on Ebola.
Here’s what the CDC says:
Ebola virus is the cause of a viral hemorrhagic fever disease. Symptoms include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, and abnormal bleeding. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebolavirus though 8-10 days is most common.
Here’s what the CDC has to say about the transmission of the disease:
Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.
The CDC goes on to state that Ebola is not a food-borne or water-borne illness and cannot be transmitted through the air. They also make note that individuals who are not symptomatic of disease are not capable of transmitting the disease. In other words, to actually get Ebola from another infected person, that person has to be sick with the disease.
The CDC does not, however, mention pets such as cats in relation to Ebola. They do make note of the fact that non-human primates, bats, and rodents are suspected to be capable of carrying the disease, and contact with blood or secretions from these animals, or the ingestion of infected meat, may lead to transmission of the disease to a person. Bats are the most likely source, according to the CDC, at least in the case of the most recent disease outbreak being experienced in West Africa. However, the actual natural reservoir for the disease does remain unknown at this time.
In the interest of keeping panic about Ebola to a minimum, it’s worth noting that, as of August 10, 2014, the CDC has received no evidence of any infections that have occurred within the U.S. They also state that “Ebola does not pose a significant risk to the U.S. public.”
The veterinary literature (through clinical studies or any reputable source) has no evidence that cats or dogs can be infected and/or can be a source of transmission. The bad news is that there is no evidence to the contrary.
Based on what we know about the disease, the virus, and how Ebola is spread, it seems unlikely that our pets are at risk. Of course, when dealing with living breathing beings, nobody can ever truly “never say never.” Still, I see little cause for worry, particularly for pet cats that are housed indoors and do not eat raw meat.
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