The news has been running stories nonstop about this latest outbreak of the Ebola virus — and for good reason. Of the 1,323 reported cases, 932 have been declared dead, making this highly transmittable contagion one of the most lethal.
And now that a person with Ebola, Nancy Writebol, has been brought stateside and admitted into a hospital in Atlanta, people in America are finally starting to take notice. Many are concerned about how the outbreak will affect them.
But what about our pets?
Ebola is a virus that causes the victim to bleed uncontrollably, both internally and externally. The virus takes 3 weeks to fully mature, and during the incubation period the victim often presents with headaches, weakness, a fever, and a sore throat.
Luckily, Ebola can only be transmitted via bodily fluids and tissues — it is not an airborne virus like the flu. That said, if it is contracted the victim has a 50% chance of survival — and that is being generous. Some sources put the mortality rate as high as 90%.
“But what about my dog?!”
Can Your Dog Get Ebola?
So, can your dog get Ebola?
As it happens, cases of Ebola have been reported in monkeys, apes, rodents, pigs, bats, porcupines, and dogs.
Dogs are likely to contract Ebola as a result of eating or coming in contact with an infected animal, likely a fruit bat or a mouse. If your dog is notorious for bringing home little “presents” it may be a good idea to keep a closer eye on them.
An important caveat is, while dogs are able to contract Ebola, they do so asymptomatically. That means, while they can be a carrier of Ebola, they won’t present any of the signs and will therefore remain unaffected by the condition.
The fact that they can be a carrier, however, means that they are able to pass the virus on to us, which could present a problem. The odds that you would eat a fruit bat are very low (I hope), but the odds that your dog would lick your face after eating a fruit bat are much higher.
What Can I Do?
For starters, try not to worry about it.
The outbreak has been, by-in-large, contained to West Africa (aside from Nancy Writebol, who has been quarantined and is under constant surveillance). The risk of you or your dog coming into contact with a carrier of Ebola is astronomically slim.
If you do suspect that you, your dog, or anyone else may have contracted the virus, stay calm. Contact your physician and vet, as well as the CDC, as soon as possible. The most important thing when dealing with a virus like Ebola is containing the outbreak.
Unfortunately, as of now, there is still no cure for Ebola, but researcher are working around the clock to finally put this virus to bed.
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Center for Disease Control – Ebola Virus Antibody Prevalence in Dogs and Human Risk
NY Times – Atlanta Hospital Admits Second American With Ebola
Yahoo News – US Ebola Outbreak ‘Possible’ But Likely Not Large: CDC Chief
DogChannel – Ebola Virus and Our Dogs