The EU asks to quarantine pets to prevent monkeypox from becoming endemic

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The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has recommended concentrating the focus on the identification and tracing of monkeypox cases, to cut the chains of transmission and prevent the virus from spreading throughout Europe. Although the pandemic risk is very low, the agency recognizes that, if human-to-animal transmission occurs, there is a danger that the disease will become endemic in Europe, which is why it has recommended that pets exposed to the virus be isolated. Until now, the only regions of the world in which this disease is endemic are Central and West Africa, where recurrent outbreaks have occurred since 1970.

The vast majority of cases in the new outbreak have been recorded in men who had had sex with other men, “suggesting that transmission must take place during intimate relationships,” explains the ECDC, which recommends that infected people remain isolated until let the scabs fall off and avoid close contact with immunosuppressed patients and petsas well as sexual activity with other people.

Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted between animals and humans.. Despite its name, monkeys are not the main reservoir of the virus, although it was first identified in 1958 in a population of primates. Its origin is unknown, but it is believed to be transmitted by small rodents and squirrels in the African rain forests. For this reason, the ECDC points out that “rodents, and in particular species of the family Sciuridae –squirrels-, are the ideal hosts, more than humans, what makes human-to-pet transmission theoretically possible“.

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Prevent the establishment of the virus in Europe

The ECDC, which is the European Union agency responsible for reinforcing the strategy against infectious diseases, acknowledges that “very little is currently known about the suitability of domestic and peridomestic mammalian species – those that live freely in a human environment such as rats and mice – to serve as a host for the monkeypox virus,” although it points to the possibility that if the pathogen jumps from humans to animals, this situation “could lead to the establishment of the virus in Europe”.

“Public health authorities must work together with veterinary authorities to ensure thatmammalian companion animals that have been exposed or are at risk of exposure can be quarantined and testedthat is, pets with positive monkeypox and close contacts,” advises the agency, for whom “ideally, rodent pets should be isolated in monitored facilities, complying with respiratory isolation and animal welfare conditions,” in addition to perform a PCR test on them before concluding the quarantine “Euthanasia should only be the last resort for situations in which tests and/or isolation are not feasible,” he stresses.

Public Health studies the administration of the smallpox vaccine to close contacts

But the ECDC recommendations on pets do not focus solely on rodents, but are extended to other mammal species, which “could be isolated at home if animal welfare conditions allow it”, for example, delimiting a closed outdoor space for dogs, regular veterinary check-ups to assess their health status, prevent pets from leaving the house and their contact with visitors.

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According to the European agency specializing in public health, there is no evidence that the virus settled in the wildlife of the United States, which suffered a major outbreak of monkeypox in 2003. In addition, it recalls that the country’s health authorities carried carried out systematic surveillance and a very aggressive campaign focused on animals that were exposed to the virus. In any case, the ECDC considers that in Europe “The probability of this indirect event occurring is very low.”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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