Amid growing concerns over the recent spread of the monkeypox virus, the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) has advised monkeypox patients to avoid contact with their pets for 21 days. Monkeypox is a more common viral infection in West and Central Africa. However, its spread in Europe and some other Western countries has alarmed experts. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on May 27 that the detection of cases in recent weeks could be just the start. “We don’t know if we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg,” said Sylvie Briand, head of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention at the WHO.
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The natural reservoir of monkeypox is unknown, but experts believe it originated from western and central rodents. It has been understood that gerbils, hamsters and other rodents could be particularly susceptible to the disease.
“Based on current evidence, for pet rodents in households where there are infected people, temporary removal from the household for a limited quarantine period (21 days),” noted a UKHSA risk assessment. .
“…and testing to rule out infection is recommended, particularly where there are infected human contacts who have had direct and prolonged close contact with the animal or its bedding and/or bedding,” said he added.
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During this time, other pets, such as cats and dogs, should be isolated in the house. And to ensure that no “clinical signs” are observed, it is recommended that pets undergo regular veterinary checks.
Meanwhile, in a separate advisory, European health authorities have asked monkeypox patients to isolate their pet hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs. Experts fear the virus could become endemic across Europe in case it spreads to animals.
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), “Rodent pets should ideally be isolated in supervised facilities, respecting respiratory isolation (e.g. laboratory) and animal welfare conditions. animals (e.g. government facilities, kennels or animal welfare agencies), and tested (by PCR) for exposure before the end of quarantine.”
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