An Italian greyhound belonging to a gay couple in Paris has tested positive for monkeypox after sharing a bed with his owners.
Scientific journal The Lancet described it as “the first case of a dog with confirmed monkeypox virus infection that might have been acquired through human transmission”.
Less than two weeks after the couple had tested positive for the virus, they noticed the dog had developed lesions on his stomach, as well as an anal ulceration. The dog had been sleeping on the couple's bed.
The dog was checked for monkeypox using an adapted PCR test and was found to be positive for the hMPXV-1 clade lineage B1 strain, an identical match to the couple’s. This is the strain of Monkeypox currently spreading around the world - primarily between men who have sex with men.
Researchers have confirmed that this appears to be a clear incidence of human-to-dog transmission, and that the dog suffered the symptoms of Monkeypox and so was not simply carrying the virus.
The case highlights the importance of educqtion to inform people diagnosed with Monkeypox to also remain isolated from pets.
What is Monkeypox?
The name “monkeypox” comes from the first documented cases of the illness, in 1958, when two outbreaks occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research.
But monkeys aren’t major carriers. Instead, the virus is generally spread by squirrels, pouched rats, dormice or another rodent.
How do you catch Monkeypox?
Primarily, from an animal bite, scratch or contact with the animal’s bodily fluid. Then the virus can spread to other people through coughing and sneezing or contact with pus from the lesions.
Symptoms are likely to appear somewhere between 5-21 days after exposure to the virus.
The lesions from monkeypox are similar to those from a smallpox infection.
It’s previously been thought that transmission of Monkeypox between people was a very low risk but this current outbreak appears to be spreading very effectively between people.
Health experts are speculating that the end of vaccination programs against Smallpox has left us vulnerable to a Monkeypox outbreak.
How dangerous is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox can be a nasty illness – it causes fever, body aches, enlarged lymph nodes and, eventually, painful, fluid-filled blisters on the face, hands and feet. One version of monkeypox is quite deadly and kills up to 10% of people infected. The version currently being detected from this cluster is milder. Its fatality rate is less than 1%. A case generally resolves in two to four weeks.
If you have it, you’ll probably need to isolate at home until you’ve recovered.
What should I do if I think I might have been exposed to Monkeypox?
If you notice any unusual rashes or lesions, and you think you might have been exposed to the virus through sexual contact, then contact your local sexual health service for advice.