Warning to pet owners as monkeypox “could become endemic” if it spreads to animals
Ensuring pets don’t become infected is key to controlling the disease, which can cause patients to experience fever, headaches, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue and chills
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If pets start catching monkeypox, the virus could become endemic and a permanent problem in the UK, health officials warn.
according to dr Susan Hopkins, senior medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), says monkeypox is spreading across the UK, with 57 cases now being registered.
The agency announced on Monday that it added 36 new infections in England, plus one in Scotland, to the 20 known patients so far.
Ensuring pets don’t become infected is key to controlling the disease, which can cause patients to experience fever, headaches, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue and chills.
So far, no pets are known to have been infected. However, the European Center for Disease Control warned on Monday that it was important to “manage exposed domestic animals and prevent the disease from being transmitted to wild animals”.
The update states: “If human-to-animal transmission occurs and the virus spreads in an animal population, there is a risk that the disease will become endemic in Europe.
“Rodents, and particularly species of the family Sciuridae (squirrels), are more likely than humans to be suitable hosts, and transmission from humans to (pet) animals is theoretically possible.
“Such a spill-over event could potentially lead to the virus becoming established in European wildlife and the disease becoming an endemic zoonosis. The probability of such a spill-over event is very low.”
Rats and squirrels are likely susceptible to monkeypox, but there are also concerns that even dogs and cats could get it.
Prof David Robertson of the Glasgow Center for Virus Research told the Telegraph: “It seems sensible to monitor all animals/pets that infected people come into contact with.”
Gay and bisexual men have been urged to regularly examine their bodies for rashes or lesions that look like monkeypox, as they make up a “remarkable proportion” of current cases.
Monkeypox symptoms include an unusual blemish, particularly on the genitals, which must be reported immediately to the NHS 111 or examined at the patient’s local sexual health clinic.
Once someone has contracted monkeypox, they are considered contagious until all of the scabs fall off — which can take several weeks.
Anyone in the UK who has had close contact with an infected person can get a smallpox vaccine called Imvanex to protect against the disease.
The virus takes its name from 1958 crab-eating laboratory macaque monkeys that were observed to have contracted smallpox. Then, 12 years later, in 1970, the first human case of monkeypox was detected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Instead of monkeys spreading the disease, it is rodents, as seen in the 2003 US outbreak, which was traced to rodents imported from Ghana.
According to the World Health Organization, the mortality rate of the milder strain that has spread worldwide is around 3-6%. This is compared to the more serious strain, which is known to have a 10% mortality rate.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/warning-pet-owners-monkeypox-could-27053194 Warning to pet owners as monkeypox "could become endemic" if it spreads to animals