Doctors have reported the first confirmed case of monkeypox that spread to a dog, potentially through its owners, a gay couple, calling into question whether pets should be isolated from owners diagnosed with the virus.
According to medical journal The Lancet, on June 10, 2022, two men went to Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, in Paris, France, with the men complaining of anal ulcerations and rashes that had spread.
The Lancet describes the couple as "non-exclusive," and says that patient one is a 44-year-old Latino man with HIV, while the second patient is a 27-year-old white man who is HIV-negative.
"The men had presented with anal ulceration 6 days after sex with other partners. In patient 1, anal ulceration was followed by a vesiculopustular rash on the face, ears, and legs; in patient 2, on the legs and back. In both cases, rash was associated with asthenia, headaches, and fever 4 days later," The Lancet describes.
The two men were diagnosed with monkeypox through a PCR test, using skin, oropharynx, and anal samples.
Monkeypox has been spreading worldwide, mainly in communities of men who has sex with men, in recent months, with the World Health Organization declaring a global health emergency in July.
12 days after the men were diagnosed, their 4-year-old male Italian greyhound began presenting symptoms, including "mucocutaneous lesions, abdomen pustules and a thin anal ulceration."
The dog subsequently received a positive PCR test result for monkeypox, using samples from the dog’s oral and anal cavity.
"Monkeypox virus DNA sequences from the dog and patient 1 were compared by next-generation sequencing," The Lancet reported. "Both samples contained virus of the hMPXV-1 clade, lineage B.1, which has been spreading in non-endemic countries since April, 2022, and, as of Aug 4, 2022, has infected more than 1700 people in France, mostly concentrated in Paris, where the dog first developed symptoms."
The men said that they had been co-sleeping with their dog, but noted that they had been careful to keep their dog away from contact with other pets or humans following the onset of the pair’s symptoms, 13 days before the dog began presenting these symptoms.
The Lancet noted that testing results concluded a "100 percent sequence homology" between the virus that infected patient one and the dog.
"In endemic countries, only wild animals (rodents and primates) have been found to carry monkeypox virus. However, transmission of monkeypox virus in prairie dogs has been described in the USA and in captive primates in Europe that were in contact with imported infected animals. Infection among domesticated animals, such as dogs and cats, has never been reported," The Lancet reported.
The Lancet states that "to the best of our knowledge," the close timeline of symptoms displayed in both the owners and the dog "suggest human-to-dog transmission of monkeypox virus."
"Given the dog's skin and mucosal lesions as well as the positive monkeypox virus PCR results from anal and oral swabs, we hypothesise a real canine disease, not a simple carriage of the virus by close contact with humans or airborne transmission (or both)," they wrote.
"Our findings should prompt debate on the need to isolate pets from monkeypox virus-positive individuals. We call for further investigation on secondary transmissions via pets," The Lancet concluded.
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