Monkey pox: the virus can be transmitted to pets, what we know

The 31st dog festival is in Prisches in the Avesnois on Monday June 6, 2022.
In the available scientific literature, data on the susceptibility of pets to monkeypox are still very limited. (©AdobeStock)

277 cases of monkey pox contamination were identified this Tuesday, June 21, 2022 by Santé Publique France, most of them in Île-de-France. The previous report, published five days earlier, reported 183 cases.

According to data released last week by Public Health France, the cases that were investigated were men, aged 19 to 63, with a median age of 34. Nine of them were immunocompromised.

“A first female case has been confirmed”, Public Health France announced on Tuesday, adding that “the mode of transmission” was “under investigation. »

Where are the 277 cases of monkeypox in France?

195 in Île-de-France, 16 in Occitanie, 14 in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, 16 in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, 12 in Hauts-de-France, 12 in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, 6 in Normandy, 1 in Centre-Val de Loire, 1 in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, 1 in Grand-Est, 3 in Brittany.

At the same time, the National Health Security Agency (ANSES) recommended, as it stands, avoid contact with your pet in case of monkeypox infection.

This disease is mainly transmitted by wild rodents or primates found in areas of Central and West Africa. If “human-to-human transmission” is possible, what about pets? Is there a risk of dissemination?

Species more at risk of being contaminated

Some species have a priori more risk than others to be contaminated, according to the first results of the research.

ANSES thus differentiates “receptivity” from “sensitivity. The first term designates the “capacity of an animal species to harbor the virus without necessarily developing symptoms” while the second refers to the “capacity of the animal species to express clinical signs and/or lesions due to the virus . »

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Still according to ANSES, therefore, not all pets can be infected. According to the state of knowledge, lagomorphs, such as rabbits or hares, are receptive and sensitive under experimental conditions, in particular rabbits.

The sciurids, including squirrels and prairie dogs, seem to constitute a receptive and sensitive family, possibly the most at risk of contamination by humans. However, the possession and sale of these animals is not authorized in France.

The pet rodentssuch as brown rats, mice, guinea pigs or even hamsters, seem, for their part, not very receptive to the virus in adulthood, but could be so for the youngest animals.

Data are missing for ferrets and dogs. About the catsonly one serological study exists, with negative results. At this stage, no clinical cases have been reported in these three species.

In case of contamination, keep your pet

In view of these data, when a person is infected with the monkeypox virus, ANSES recommends to avoid “as much as possible contact between the animal and the infected person, ideally by having your animal looked after by another person during the isolation period. »

And, “before each contact with her animal”, she advises to “wash your hands, then wear gloves and a face mask unique. »

Pending further data on the sensitivity and receptivity of pets, “the greatest vigilance” is also recommended to veterinarians receiving in consultation animals whose owner is symptomatic.

By the end of 2022, new expertise will complete these initial elements. It will relate to the assessment of the risks of transmission of the virus to peridomestic fauna (particularly rodents). An assessment of the risk of virus importation by infected animals will also be carried out.

What is monkey pox?

It’s a infectious disease caused by an Orthopoxvirus. This zoonotic disease is usually transmitted to humans in forest areas of Central and West Africa by wild rodents or primates.

But human-to-human transmission is possible, especially within the family home or in a healthcare environment, explains Public Health France.

To date, as in other European countries, the cases which have occurred mainly in France, but not exclusively, are among men who have sex with men. The majority of cases report multiple sexual partners.

Public health France

How is this disease transmitted?

It can be transmitted by direct contact with broken skin or mucous membranes of a sick person, as well as by the droplets (saliva, sneezing, sputtering, etc.).

Sexual intercourse, with or without penetration, meets these conditions for contamination and having several partners increases the risk of being exposed to the virus.

Contamination can also occur in contact with the patient’s environment (bedding, clothes, crockery, bath linen, etc.). It is therefore important that patients respect isolation for the entire duration of the disease (until the disappearance of the last scabs, most often three weeks), recommends Public Health France.

Infection with monkeypox virus is not known as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but direct contact with broken skin during sex facilitates transmission.

What are the symptoms ?

Monkeypox virus infection most commonly begins with a fever, frequently loud and accompanied by headacheof aches and asthenia.

After about two days, a blistering rash, made of vesicles filled with liquid which evolve towards drying, the formation of crusts and then healing. Itching may occur.

The vesicles concentrate instead on the face, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The mucous membranes are also affected, in the mouth and the genital area. The lymph nodes are swollen and painful, under the jaw and in the neck.

However, the cases of monkeypox currently detected in the United States do not necessarily present these usual symptoms, which can lead to a difficult diagnosis, alert the American health authorities, stressing that identifying these cases was crucial to curb the spread of the virus. sickness.

We have seen mild cases of monkeypox, sometimes limited to certain parts of the body.

Rochelle WalenskyDirector of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The incubation of the disease can range from five to 21 days. The fever phase lasts about one to three days. The disease usually heals spontaneously, after two to three weeks.

Is monkeypox serious?

Disease is more severe in children and in immunocompromised people. It can be complicated by superinfection, skin lesions or respiratory, digestive, ophthalmological or neurological damage.

At this stage, the cases reported in Europe are mostly benignand there are no reported deaths.

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