If I have monkeypox is it a risk to my pets?

Confirmed cases have tripled in a week, according to the latest WHO report. Could this disease spread to pets and wildlife? See for yourself.

If I have monkeypox is it a risk to my pets?
If you are infected with monkeypox and have pets, here's what you should know. Photo by Antonio Francisco / Unsplash

We're still not over the COVID-19 pandemic and we're already starting to hear about a sudden increase in the number of cases worldwide of another unusual infectious disease called monkeypox. In Mexico, monkeypox was detected in a foreign tourist who vacationed for several days in Puerto Vallarta.

This endemic infection coming from West Africa and transmitted from animals, has already infected 780 people, 88 percent of them diagnosed in Europe, according to the latest situation report on this disease published by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Given the increase in confirmed cases, which have tripled in a week, the UN health agency maintains the global risk of this outbreak at a "moderate" level, as this is the first time that transmission has been recorded in non-endemic countries. However, the disease could spread to pets and wildlife.

Does the monkeypox virus affect pets?

Animals that host this virus may include rodents or primates. WHO indicates that anyone who comes into physical contact with someone with symptoms or with an infected animal is at increased risk of infection. The risk is reduced by limiting contact with suspected or confirmed cases. But what about household pets?

These viruses spread relatively easily between species, so there is at least a potential risk to our pets. However, so far neither the WHO nor the Mexican government has published any report on the care of pets if someone contracts the virus, although other health agencies do give precise indications.

For example, the health authorities of the European Union recommended to those infected with monkeypox quarantine their pets to prevent the disease, which continues to spread around the world, from becoming endemic in Europe.

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) warned in late May that the virus could spread to pets and wildlife.

"There is a potential risk of human-to-animal transmission, so close collaboration is needed between health and veterinary authorities, working from a global health perspective to care for exposed pets," the ECDC warned.

In Spain, the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food warned that people infected with the virus should avoid all interaction with their pets, especially if they are rodents, and close contact should be minimized as much as possible unless the close contact is the animal itself, in which case it should be isolated for at least 21 days.