WHO’s pet warning after greyhound tests positive for monkeypox virus

An Italian greyhound contracted monkeypox in Paris.

An Italian greyhound contracted monkeypox in Paris. Photo: Getty

A couple who contracted monkeypox passed the virus on to their dog, testing has confirmed.

The World Health Organisation said on Thursday morning the case, in France, showed it was important infected people isolate from their pets.

One of the WHO’s experts has warned of the “theoretical” possibility the virus could mutate if it spreads in animal populations outside of the household.

The case of an infection in an Italian greyhound was first documented in the journal Lancet.

French scientists said two men who were in an open relationship had become infected with monkeypox in late May.

They were living in a Paris apartment with their pet when they began to develop headaches and noticed they had ulcers and a rash.

Their four-year-old dog developed lesions on its stomach and anus 12 days after the owners became unwell.

“The dog tested positive for monkeypox virus by use of a PCR protocol…that involved scraping skin lesions and swabbing the anus and oral cavity,” they wrote.

“Our findings should prompt debate on the need to isolate pets from monkeypox virus-positive individuals.

“We call for further investigation on secondary transmissions via pets.”

There had been more than 35,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox reported to the WHO as of Thursday morning. The infections were detected across 92 countries.

Most infections occurred between men who had sex with other men, however the WHO reiterated there had also been “sporadic” cases reported in the broader population including children. Twelve patients had died.

The number of cases increased by 20 per cent in the past week, WHO figures showed.

“Anyone who is in close contact with someone who has monkeypox can also be exposed – whether in a household setting or occupational setting,” said WHO’s Dr Rosamund Lewis.

She said patients should take steps – namely, isolation, additional cleaning and careful removal of animal waste – to protect “any member of the household” including pets.

“Regarding movement of the virus into an animal population outside the the household…as soon as the virus moves into a different setting, in a different population, there is obviously possibility that it will develop differently and mutate differently,” Dr Lewis said.

“That’s a theoretical possibility. Right now we don’t have information on that because we don’t have any reports.

“We are working closely with the World Organisation for Animal Health.”

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