Science

Monkeypox: First confirmed case of infection in a dog

Pets can become infected with monkeypox if they are in close proximity to people infected with the virus. This is the first proven case of human-to-canine transmission, discovered in Paris in June 2022. This little Italian greyhound, 4 years old, developed the characteristic skin lesions a few days after his owners. It is believed that the infection was due to prolonged closeness between the infected couple and their dog, who was sleeping in their bed. This first case of dog infection was reported in The Lancet on August 27, 2022.

The dog fell ill two weeks after the owner

The dog belongs to a couple of men aged 44 and 27 who live together in Paris but have an “open” romantic relationship. The two men were admitted to the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris on June 10, 2022, six days after having sex with other partners. One of the patients had injuries to the anus, face, ears and legs, the second had injuries to the legs and back. In addition, both patients also reported physical fatigue (asthenia), headaches, and fever. Monkeypox virus infection was confirmed by PCR in both patients with samples taken from skin lesions as well as from the throat.

Twelve days later, their (previously healthy) dog developed ulcers on his stomach and anus. Viral infection was confirmed by PCR on samples from the lesions and mouth of the animal. The virus was then sequenced to confirm that it was indeed the same virus that infected dog owners. Indeed, the viral sequences were exactly the same on the sequenced portion (over 19,000 base pairs long) in the dog and one of the patients. It was the B.1 strain, which had already infected more than 1,700 people in France as of August 4, 2022, mostly in Paris.

Infected pets can spread the virus

Monkeypox infection has already been described in animals (rodents, squirrels and primates) but has never been seen in domestic animals before. However, the possibility of human-to-dog transmission has already been discussed. A preprint (paper not yet peer-reviewed) published online on August 4, 2022 by doctors at the Bichat Hospital in Paris reports the infection of two patients vaccinated against smallpox. In any case, the most likely source of infection was a pet. That is, some domestic animals (for example, dogs and cats) could not only be infected with the monkeypox virus, but also be contagious.

For the authors, these cases show that it is necessary to isolate the pets of people with monkeypox to prevent them from becoming infected and spreading the disease. While recalling that the role of transmission of this disease from domestic animals remains to be proven and that more research is needed to test such a hypothesis.

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