Monkeypox can spread between people and pets: Steps to take if pet owner becomes sick

Pets should be monitored for 21 days after close contact with monkeypox case

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Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can spread between animals and people.

If you have monkeypox, you should avoid contact with your pets and wildlife to prevent spreading the virus. It can spread through close contact including, petting, cuddling, hugging, licking, sharing sleeping areas and sharing food.

If you can, have a friend or family member who lives in a different home take the pets and care for them until the person with monkeypox recovers. After the person with monkeypox has recovered, you’ll have to disinfect your home before bringing the animals back. Click here for a guide with information about how to disinfect your home.

It’s worth noting that while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sharing information and urging people to take precautions, it also said there haven’t been any reports yet of people transmitting the virus to animals.

Read: Where is monkeypox in Michigan? Here’s a map of cases and everything you should know about symptoms

What to do if your pet is exposed to monkeypox?

If your pet has had close contact with a symptomatic person with monkeypox, they should be kept at home and away from other animals and people for 21 days. Infected people should not care for exposed pets.

People who are immunocompromised, pregnant, have young children present (under 8 years old), or have a history of atopic dermatitis or eczema should not care for animals that have had close contact with a person with monkeypox.

What is the risk for dogs and cats?

The complete range of animal species that can contract monkeypox isn’t well known, and the CDC is still gathering more information.

It’s unknown if dogs and cats can get the virus, but they can be infected with other orthopoxviruses, so they may be susceptible to monkeypox infection. Hedgehogs and shrews can be infected with monkeypox.

TypeCan be infected with monkeypox?Can be infected with other orthopoxviruses?
Domestic rabbitsAdults: possiblyYes
Guinea pigsUnknownYes

Click here to view the CDC’s full list.

What to do if nobody else can care for your pet

If you’re not able to find a suitable place for your pet to stay while you recover from monkeypox, there are some steps you can take to protect them.

Make sure you wash your hands, or use an alcohol-based hand rub, before and after caring for them. It’s important to cover any skin rash as best you can, wear gloves and wear a well-fitting mask or respirator while caring for your pets.

The CDC makes the following recommendations:

  • Do not put a mask on your pet.
  • Avoid close contact with your pet.
  • Ensure your pet cannot inadvertently come into contact with contaminated articles in the home such as clothing, sheets and towels used by the person with monkeypox.
  • Do not let animals come into contact with rashes, bandages and body fluids.
  • Ensure food, toys, bedding or other items that you provide for your animal during its isolation do not come in direct contact with skin or uncovered rash.

Read: Monkeypox vaccine in Michigan: Should you get vaccinated? How does it work?

What to do if your pet has monkeypox symptoms

The CDC said it does not know all the symptoms that animals infected with monkeypox will have.

The organization said to watch out for lethargy, lack of appetite, coughing, nasal secretions or crust, bloating, fever and/or a pimple- or blister-like skin rash.

Call your veterinarian if you notice an animal becomes sick within 21 days of having contact with a person who has probable or confirmed monkeypox. A veterinarian can help notify officials.

The CDC said you should not euthanize pets with suspected monkeypox unless directed by a veterinarian. Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants including alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products such as hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners.

The CDC recommends the following steps:

  • Get your pet tested if they have had close contact with a person with probable or confirmed monkeypox and they have a new rash or two other clinical signs. Call your veterinarian if you notice an animal appears sick within 21 days of having contact with a person who has probable or confirmed monkeypox.
  • Separate the sick pet or animal from other animals and minimize direct contact with people for at least 21 days after becoming ill or until fully recovered.
  • Wash your hands often and use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for and cleaning up after sick animals. PPE includes wearing gloves, using eye protection (safety glasses, goggles, or face shield), wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator (ideally a disposable NIOSH-approved N95 filtering facepiece respirator) and wearing a disposable gown.
  • Bedding, enclosures, food dishes and any other items in direct contact with infected animals must be properly disinfected.
  • Soiled laundry and bedding (including disposable rodent bedding) should not be shaken or otherwise handled in a manner that may disperse infectious particles.

Tips for disposing of pet waste

The CDC suggests people should contact their local public health department for guidelines for waste disposal.

It did list the following precautions:

  • Use a dedicated, lined trash can for all potentially contaminated waste.
  • Do not leave or dispose of waste outdoors as Monkeypox virus infections in wildlife may occur.
  • If appropriate for the species and your plumbing system, flush animal waste down the toilet.
  • If the waste cannot be flushed down the toilet, it should be sealed in a bag and disposed of properly to prevent more infections.

Read: More pets coverage

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.