If 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.
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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) has been urgently called over the question of its transmission to pets.
According to the current state of knowledge, lagomorphs such as rabbits or hares are susceptible and sensitive under test conditions, especially rabbits.
The sciurids, including squirrels and prairie dogs, appear to form a receptive and sensitive family that may be most at risk from human contamination. However, owning and selling these animals is not allowed in France.
For their part, domestic rodents such as brown rats, mice, guinea pigs or even hamsters do not appear to be very susceptible to the virus in adulthood, but may be so in young animals.
Data are lacking for ferrets and dogs. In cats there is only one serological study with negative results. To date, no clinical cases have been reported in these three species.
Given this data, ANSES recommends that when a person is infected with the monkeypox virus, “avoiding as much as possible contact between the animal and the infected person, ideally by having the animal cared for by another person during the period of isolation”. . And “before any contact with your animal” she advises “washing your hands, then wearing gloves and a disposable mask”.
Pending additional data on the sensitivity and susceptibility of pets, “extreme vigilance” is also recommended for veterinarians who consult animals whose owner is symptomatic.
By the end of 2022, new know-how will complete these first elements. It will focus on assessing the risks of transmission of the virus to peridomestic fauna (rodents in particular). An assessment of the risk of virus introduction from infected animals will also be carried out.