In the first documented case of human-to-animal transmission of monkeypox, a 4 year old dog in France was infected by its human owners, both of whom had confirmed cases.
Pet owners may be concerned about the potential risk to their animals. The most likely exposure to monkeypox virus is extremely close contact with an infected person, says AVMA President Dr. Lori Teller. To date, there have been no confirmed cases in pet cats, guinea pigs or hamsters, but rabbits and mice are susceptible. Pet owners who have monkeypox should either have someone else care for the pet or take precautions such as wearing protective clothing and a mask when handling the pet, its food and its gear, and pets shouldn't be wiped or bathed with disinfectants.
Here is some guidance, based on what is known now:
Transmission of Monkeypox
- Direct contact with contagious individuals, particularly with secretions from lesions
- Exposure to respiratory droplets (as with prolonged face-to-face contact)
- Contact with virus-contaminated surfaces (e.g., bedding or cages)
- Bites or scratches that break the skin
- Ingestion of infected animals or tissue (e.g., wild game or "bush meat")
Possible Symptoms of Monkeypox in Animals
The incubation period for monkeypox averages between 7 and 14 days. During this period, infected animals or people typically have no signs of illness and are not contagious. Signs of monkeypox in dogs includes development of a new rash, which to date have been located on the abdomen and anus.
Possible clinical signs of monkeypox in animals include:
- Lack of appetite
- Nasal and/or eye secretions or crust
- Fever, and/or
- Pox-like skin lesions (may initially resemble a pimple or blister before progression to a characteristic monkeypox lesion) or rash
If your pet develops at least two of these signs or a pimple- or blister-like rash within 21 days after possible contact with someone with monkeypox, seek veterinary care immediately.
Please note, though, that these are also symptoms of other, more common infectious diseases and, in the absence of your pet's close contact with a known monkeypox case, are unlikely to be signs of monkeypox. Even so, these signs can mean a pet is sick and should be seen by a veterinarian.
Please do not surrender, euthanize, or abandon pets because of a potential exposure to or case of monkeypox. Please seek veterinary care or advice if you are concerned about your pet's health.
Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products, such as hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners.
Supportive care (e.g., fluids or analgesics) can be provided to alleviate clinical signs, such as dehydration or discomfort. For animals, some evidence from prairie dogs indicates that buprenorphine—and not nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs—may be useful for relieving discomfort in animals. Antimicrobials are rarely necessary but may be indicated for patients with secondary bacterial infections.
Confirmed or Suspected Human Monkeypox Case in a Home with Pets
According to the CDC, people with monkeypox should avoid contact with animals. If household members are immunocompromised, pregnant, under 8 years old, or have a history of atopic dermatitis or eczema, they should not provide care for animals that have had close contact to a person with monkeypox. In this case, it may be necessary to isolate and care for these animals in a location other than the home.
No Close Contact
- If a person with monkeypox did NOT have close contact with pets after their symptom onset, ask friends or family members who live in a separate home to be the animal’s caretaker until the person with monkeypox fully recovers. Close contact means petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food.
- If you have monkeypox and must care for your healthy pets during home isolation, follow CDC guidelines.
- After the person with monkeypox is recovered, disinfect your home before bringing healthy animals back; follow the CDC's guidelines for disinfecting your home and other non-healthcare settings.
- Pets that had close contact with a symptomatic person with monkeypox should be kept at home and away from other animals and people for 21 days after the most recent contact. Infected people should not take care of exposed pets. The person with monkeypox should avoid close contact with the exposed animal, and when possible, ask another household member to care for the animal until the person with monkeypox is fully recovered. Close contact means petting, cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, sharing sleeping areas, and sharing food.
- Veterinary care: Only seek veterinary care during quarantine if it is essential and can’t be postponed until the end of quarantine.
- Grooming: Do not groom your pet during quarantine.
- Time in the yard: Short, supervised periods outside are okay. Prevent exposure to wildlife or through-the-fence transmission to neighboring people or animals.
- Walking: Consider your environment and circumstances to avoid any and all close contact between the pet and others. Risk of exposure is low If the animal can be walked but still kept away from other people or pets. Do not bring pets to the dog park, or other public areas.
- Cleaning: Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products, such as hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners.
General Tips to Avoid Transmission to Animals (and People)
- Keep the pet in the house and use isolation measures to prevent transmission to or from the animal.
- Uninfected people in the household should be the animal’s primary caregiver(s) whenever possible.
- Keep your pet away from monkeypox skin lesions. Pet contact with skin lesions of infected people probably poses the biggest risk of transmission to the pet, but other types of contact also have to be considered. The degree of risk from aerosol transmission is still to be determined.
- Keep monkeypox skin lesions covered, whenever possible.
- Limit contact between people and the pet as much as possible. Don’t allow your pet to lay on or near anyone infected with monkeypox, or to be petted, fed, or handled without personal protection.
- Keep the pet in a separate room or area of the house as much as possible (being practical and considering the pet’s welfare).
- Keep the pet away from bandages, clothing or other materials that have come into contact with the infected person’s skin, especially skin lesions.
- Keep the pet off furniture used by people, including couches, chairs, or beds.
- Limit the amount of time the pet is in the same airspace, especially in small, enclosed areas.
- Don’t let the pet sleep in the same bedroom as the patient.
- Pay close attention to hand hygiene, especially before any direct contact with the animal, or with things like food and water bowls.
- Maximize ventilation in the house.