Experts Wednesday issued a series of recommendations after the medical journal The Lancet reported the first case of human-to-dog transmission of monkeypox last week. The case occurred in France.
This is the first known case of human-to-animal transmission, and we believe the first case of an infected dog, said Rosamund Lewis, WHO technical director for monitoring the virus. Lewis also said that waste management was critical to reduce the risk of contamination to rodents and other wildlife.
The most dangerous situation is when a virus jumps to a small mammal with a high population density, WHO director of emergencies Michael Ryan told reporters. The virus will not mutate any faster if it's in a single dog than if it's in a single human, he added. Nevertheless, experts advise those infected to isolate themselves from their pets.
The term monkeypox was used after the virus was detected in 1958 in monkeys in a laboratory in Denmark, but the virus was also found in other animals, mostly rodents. The disease was first detected in humans in 1970 and is less dangerous and contagious than smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980.
The virus can be transmitted from animal to human, but the recent explosion of cases is due to human-to-human transmission through close contact.
An Italian greyhound is said to have caught the virus in July from a couple who slept alongside their pet. The dog developed lesions and was subsequently diagnosed with the virus.
Patients infected with monkeypox must avoid all direct contact with pets - no touching, hugging, cuddling, or sharing a sleeping space. Until all symptoms subside, which happens in between 2 to 4 weeks, pet owners should outsource caregiving for the animals. Pets in close contact with a symptomatic person should be kept at home and away from other animals and people for 21 days after the most recent contact, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).