Ebola Virus FAQ
This content is a result of AVMA collaboration with regulatory authorities and subject matter experts. If you have a question that is not addressed below, please contact your veterinarian or email us avmainfoavma [dot] org.
Q: What is the risk of exposure to the Ebola virus in the U.S.?
The relative risk of exposure to the Ebola virus in the U.S. is extremely low, as there have been only a small number of isolated human cases and no known animal cases.
Q: Is there a vaccine for Ebola?
Unfortunately, there are no approved vaccines, drugs, or products specifically for Ebola available for purchase online or in stores.
Q: Can dogs or other pets get the Ebola virus from humans, or transmit it to them?
Although EVD is a zoonotic disease, there has not been evidence of its transmission to humans from dogs. Indeed, it is not even known if dogs are capable of contracting and then transmitting the disease. A study analyzing the 2001-2002 Ebola virus outbreak in Gabon found antibodies against the virus in about 25% of dogs in the affected area, but no virus was found in them. Furthermore, none of the animals showed signs or died of the disease during the study period. The study only indicated that the animals had encountered the Ebola virus.
Q: What if a pet is in contact with an Ebola virus patient?
The owner or caretaker should contact their local Department of Public Health. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) calls for quarantine, not euthanasia, for dogs exposed to Ebola. The CDC recommends that if a pet is in the home of an EVD patient, veterinarians, in collaboration with public health officials, should evaluate the pet’s risk of exposure (close contact and exposure to blood or body fluids of an EVD patient). Appropriate measures, such as closely monitoring the exposed pet while using necessary precautions, should be taken based on that evaluation.
Q: What happens if public health officials determine that my pet had a risky exposure to a person with Ebola virus?
Public health officials will determine if it is appropriate to place the animal in confinement for 21 days to monitor for signs of illness based on the type of animal and type of contact the pet had with a person sick with Ebola. If your pet is placed in confinement, testing for Ebola virus will likely be performed to ensure that your pet does not have Ebola virus when it is released from confinement. In the unlikely event that a pet tests positive for Ebola virus, it would be euthanatized to prevent further spread of the disease.
Q: Can I get my pet tested for Ebola?
Currently, routine testing for Ebola is not available for pets. There would not be any reason to test a pet for Ebola if there was no exposure to a person infected with Ebola.
Q: What about risks of Ebola from other animals?
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) states that there is no evidence that domestic animals play an active role in the transmission of the disease to humans. Researchers believe that in Africa the spread of Ebola was initially a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. The human patient can then spread the infection to other humans through direct contact (not through air, water, or generally by food).