ANSES’s advice for pets

The national health security agency recommends that all people infected with the monkeypox virus avoid contact with their pets to avoid any risk of transmission.

With AFP

When a person is infected with the monkeypox virus, they should avoid contact with their pet as much as possible, French health authorities recommended on Thursday.

A virus that can be transmitted to certain animals

Following the increase in the number of people infected with this virus in many countries outside endemic African areas, including France, the National Health Security Agency (Anses) was seized urgently on the issue of its transmission to animals. of company. In the state of knowledge, lagomorphs, such as rabbits or hares, are receptive and sensitive under experimental conditions, in particular rabbits. The sciurids, including squirrels and prairie dogs, seem to constitute a receptive and sensitive family, possibly the most at risk of contamination by humans. However, the possession and sale of these animals is not authorized in France. Pet rodents, such as brown rats, mice, guinea pigs or even hamsters, seem to be not very receptive to the virus in adulthood but could be so for the youngest animals. Data are lacking for ferrets and dogs. Concerning cats, only one serological study exists with negative results. At this stage, no clinical cases have been reported in these three species.

Recommendations for owners infected with the virus

In view of these data, when a person is infected with the monkeypox virus, ANSES recommends“Avoid contact between the animal and the infected person as much as possible, ideally by having the animal looked after by another person during the isolation period”. And, “before each contact with his animal”, she advises to “wash your hands, then wear gloves and a disposable mask”.

Precautions to be taken by veterinarians

Pending further data on the sensitivity and receptivity of pets, “the greatest vigilance” is also recommended for veterinarians seeing animals whose owner is symptomatic. By the end of 2022, new expertise will complete these initial elements. It will relate to the assessment of the risks of transmission of the virus to peridomestic fauna (particularly rodents). An assessment of the risk of virus importation by infected animals will also be carried out.

A disease still little known in animals

For veterinary doctor Thierry Bedossa, the transmission of a virus from one species to another species is not exceptional. “But when one or more host species of the disease have been identified, there is more concern about it”, notes this animal health professional. “Each individual, whether it is a mammal or a bird, can serve as a relay for contamination by microorganisms, whether it is a virus or a bacterium.” Concerning monkey pox, the practitioner specifies that to date no follow-up of an individual from wildlife has been carried out so far. “DNA traces of the virus have been observed in monkey stools in Africa,” he explains, “but there has been no clinical observation of the signs of the disease. The monkeys in question have only been identified as animals carrying the virus.“
The practitioner who says he understands “recommendations from health authorities”admits that in his consultations, he goes “maybe start by worrying about and following these recommendations if I have evidence that cases are starting to be identified in the wildlife population, in the laboratory wildlife population, or in the pet rodent population. But, he concludes, “at the moment, that is not the case.”

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