Can the Ebola virus infect our pet dogs or cats?
Before we get to answer this question, let's get to understand what the Ebola virus is.
10 Facts to know about the Ebola Virus:
- Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a disease of humans and other primates.
- Symptoms start 2 days to 3 weeks after contracting the virus, with a fever, sore throat, muscle pain, and headaches. Typically nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea follow, along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. Around this time, affected people may begin to bleed both within the body and externally.
- The virus may be acquired upon contact with blood or bodily fluids of an infected animal (commonly monkeys or fruit bats) or a symptomatic person or through exposure through objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.
- Spread through the air has not been documented in the natural environment.
- Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebolavirus though 8-10 days is most common."
- 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 (eg the wild meat trade in West Africa), may lead to transmission of the disease to a person. Bats are the most likely source, according to the Centre for Disease Control, 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.
- There is no evidence (through clinical studies or any reputable source) that cats can be infected and/or can be a source of transmission. The bad news is that there is also 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 pet cats are at risk.
- There is no mention about dogs and the risks that they incur, but there is little cause for worry, particularly for pets that are housed indoors and do not eat raw meat.
- There is no specific treatment for the disease at this moment in time.
The question remains: Can the Ebola Virus affect dogs or cats?
As of 17 August 2014 there is no known evidence that it can or cannot affect cats or dogs and research continues. It is deadly to humans and there is no known cure for it to date.