As the Ebola virus continues to sicken and kill people in five West African countries, concerned dog owners might wonder if their beloved pets are at risk. The short answer is “no.”
Pet dogs and hunting dogs in West Africa have tested positive for the Ebola virus, but they showed no signs of being infected, said Michael San Filippo, senior media relations specialist for the American Veterinary Medical Association. The dogs did not get sick and did not die.
There are no documented cases of dogs passing the Ebola virus on to people, Mr. San Filippo said. “There is more concern about fruit bats and non-human primates,” including gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys.
West African people could be infected with Ebola by eating “bush meat,” the flesh of fruit bats and primates infected with Ebola, he said.
The association’s statement is confirmed by a study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the agency’s Emerging Infectious Disease Journal.
Veterinary researchers, including those at U.S. veterinary schools, study and keep a close watch on infectious diseases, especially those that can be passed between people and animals, Mr. San Filippo said. They continue to monitor the Ebola outbreak.
In 2001 and 2002, researchers took blood samples from dogs in Gabon, where there were occurrences of Ebola in people. The dogs were kept as pets, and some were used for hunting. Because the dogs were not fed and had to scavenge for food, they were at risk of eating bush meat from dead animals that had Ebola. Although some dogs tested positive for the Ebola virus, they did not become sick and did not die.
Ebola is still confined to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal, according to the CDC’s online fact sheet. Non-human primates can die from the virus, it says.
Linda Wilson Fuoco: email@example.com