The first potential case of human-to-dog monkeypox transmission has been documented by researchers in France.
The viral disease was declared a public health emergency of international concern on July 23 by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization. On. Aug. 4, the Biden administration declared monkeypox to be a public health emergency in the United States.
As of Aug. 17, there were 39,434 reported human cases globally and 13,516 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The first case of the current outbreak of monkeypox was found May 6 in the U.K. in a person who had traveled to Nigeria. Subsequent cases of the virus have generally occurred among humans through close contact with lesions, bodily fluids, or respiratory droplets from infected individuals.
On June 10, a team from Sorbonne University in Paris recorded two human cases of infection with monkeypox virus connected with a case in a dog. The researchers described their findings in an article published Aug. 10 in The Lancet.
The article states that two men who were living together had anal skin ulcers about a week after sex with other male partners. Twelve days after the onset of monkeypox symptoms, their 4-year-old male Italian Greyhound tested positive for the virus. The dog, who co-slept with the men, had red, tender bumps with white pus on its abdomen and an anal skin ulcer.
“Given the dog’s skin and mucosal lesions as well as the positive monkeypox virus PCR results from anal and oral swabs, we hypothesize a real canine disease, not a simple carriage of the virus by close contact with humans or airborne transmission (or both),” the team wrote in the paper.
“Our findings should prompt debate on the need to isolate pets from monkeypox virus–positive individuals,” the team added. “We call for further investigation on secondary transmissions via pets.”
AVMA information suggests monkeypox is a disease of mammals, including humans, but not all mammals appear susceptible.
Nonhuman primates and African rodents are vulnerable. However, according to the CDC, the monkeypox virus has been recovered only twice from animals in the wild: first from a rope squirrel and later from a mangabey. Both animals were found in Africa, the AVMA resource says. In the United States and other nonendemic regions, a significant concern is the potential for spillover of monkeypox to wildlife from infected people or domestic mammals, emphasizing the importance of infection control measures to contain the disease.
The AVMA says although the likelihood is low, veterinarians may encounter an animal with suspected monkeypox. If this happens, infection control practices can help protect the veterinary team, clients, and other patients from infection. Some of these practices include using personal protective equipment, taking the animal to a designated examination or isolation room, and recommending to the owner that the animal—and any others that might have come into contact with it—be quarantined when returned home.
As of Aug. 1, monkeypox has been deemed a nationally notifiable condition. States are required to report confirmed or probable monkeypox cases to the CDC within 24 hours.
Veterinarians who suspect an animal has monkeypox are advised to have the animal tested and to contact their state veterinarian, state public health veterinarian, or other public health officials so they can investigate the source and circumstances of the infection and take measures to contain it.
More information about the current monkeypox outbreak is available from the CDC.