News this month that an Italian greyhound in France contracted monkeypox from its owners is concerning, says a University of Guelph zoonosis researcher, but it isn’t reason to “freak out, overhype monkeypox, or be paranoid about your dog.”
Dr. Scott Weese is the chief of infection control at the Ontario Veterinary College and the director of U of G’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses. His research focuses on emerging infectious diseases among animals and zoonosis – the spread of diseases from animals to humans.
In a post on his blog, Worms and Germs, Weese explains information about monkeypox should be treated in the same manner as that about COVID-19. It’s necessary “to assume that a virus can infect a range of species until we know that it can’t,” which leaves the question of whether dogs can transmit monkeypox to other animals or to humans unanswered for now.
Weese says he is not surprised by the case in France, given the dog had close contact with its owners.
“It’s a bit concerning and something we definitely need to investigate more, but nothing that should cause panic,” he adds.
What to do if you and your pet are sick
If someone has monkeypox or was exposed to it, Weese advises they self-isolate and have minimal contact with both humans and animals. But that doesn’t mean if an owner is sick, they should abandon their pet altogether.
It’s more likely a pet will catch the virus from its owners, as the Italian greyhound did, rather than the other way around, he explains. So, if an owner and a pet are both sick, they should isolate with their pet to prevent further transmission, something he further explores in a different blog post.
“It’s important not to overreact, but it’s also important to be clear, honest and not dismissive of the potential risks,” he writes.
Weese is available for interviews.
Dr. Scott Weese