WHO warns of caution after dog contracted monkeypox

GENEVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday (17 August) urged people infected with monkeypox to avoid exposing animals to the virus, following a first reported case of human-to-dog transmission.

A first case of human-to-dog transmission of monkeypox – between two men and their Italian greyhound living together in Paris – was reported in the medical journal last week The lancet.

“This is the first reported case of human-to-animal transmission … and we believe it is the first case of infection in a dog,” Rosamund Lewis, WHO’s chief technical officer for monkeypox, told reporters.

Experts were aware of the theoretical risk of such a jump, she said, adding that health officials had already advised those with the disease to “isolate from their pets.”

She also said that “waste management is crucial” to reduce the risk of contamination of rodents and other animals outside the home.

species barrier

When viruses cross the species barrier, there is often concern that they could mutate dangerously.

Lewis stressed that there have been no reports of monkeypox.

However, she acknowledged that “Once the virus moves to a different environment in a different population, there is an obvious possibility that it will evolve differently and mutate differently.”

The main concern revolves around animals outside the home.

“The more dangerous situation … is when a virus can enter a small, high-density mammal population,” Michael Ryan, WHO’s director of emergencies, told reporters.

“Through the process of one animal infecting the next and the next and the next, you see the virus evolving rapidly.”

However, he stressed that there was little cause for concern about pets.

“I don’t expect the virus to develop any faster in a single dog than it does in a single human,” he said, adding that “we have to remain vigilant… Pets are not a risk.”

Monkeypox was originally identified in Denmark in 1958 in monkeys kept for research, although it is most commonly found in rodents.

The disease was first detected in humans in 1970, but since then the spread has been mainly limited to certain West and Central African countries.

But in May, cases of the disease, which causes fever, muscle aches and large, boiling skin lesions, began spreading rapidly around the world, mostly among men who have sex with men.

Globally, more than 35,000 cases have been confirmed in 92 countries since the beginning of the year and 12 people have died, according to the WHO, which has classified the outbreak as a global health emergency.

no silver bullet’

With global case numbers rising 20% ​​in the past week alone, the UN health agency is urging all countries to do more to contain the spread, including ensuring vulnerable populations have access to services and information about the dangers and protective measures have.

There is also a vaccine originally developed for smallpox, but it is in short supply.

Lewis also stressed that there is still little data on the vaccine’s effectiveness in protecting against monkeypox in the current outbreak.

Although randomized controlled trials had not yet been conducted, there were reports of breakthrough cases following vaccination, indicating that “the vaccine is not 100% accurate”.

Pointing to limited studies in the 1980s that suggested the smallpox vaccines then in use could provide 85 percent protection against monkeypox, she said the breakthrough cases were “not really a surprise.”

“But it reminds us that the vaccine is not a silver bullet,” she said.

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