A global veterinary association is calling for the testing and quarantine of dogs exposed to the Ebola virus in countries not endemic for the disease, rather than automatic euthanasia.
The infection of the nurse has caused international concern and people who have come into contact with her are in quarantine. The Madrid regional government obtained a court order to euthanise her dog, claiming “available scientific information” could not rule out “a risk of contagion“. Quarantine was not considered as an alternative and the dog has been now been destroyed.
Chairman of the WSAVA’s animal wellness and welfare committee Shane Ryan said the event sets a “dangerous precedent”.
“While it is possible dogs may harbour the virus, particularly in endemic areas where they may have access to infected animal carcases, domestic pets – potentially exposed in developed countries – represent a very different scenario,” he said. “A precedent for automatic euthanasia is both unnecessary and a significant breach of animal welfare.
“The dog in question was not tested for the virus and it is our view available technology should allow for testing and quarantine as the first line response.”
Michael Day, chairman of the WSAVA’s one health committee, said: “Zoonotic diseases, particularly those transmitted through pets, are concerning to the pet-owning public, but there have been no scientific reports indicating Ebola virus has been isolated from or directly transmitted by dogs.
“One investigation has shown dogs may develop antibody to Ebola virus consistent with exposure, but dogs do not develop any symptoms of the disease.
“As the virus spreads into more developed regions, we are likely to see increasing concern and media interest as to the role of dogs in the transmission of disease and, as a profession, we must respond to pressure to euthanise pets as the exposure levels increase and fear escalates.”