Pets can be infected with monkeypox if they are in close proximity to people infected with this virus. Here is what this first proven case of transmission from humans to dogs, detected in Paris in June 2022, suggests. This little Italian greyhound, 4 years old, developed skin lesions characteristic of this disease a few days after his masters. The infection is believed to have occurred due to prolonged proximity between the infected couple and their dog, who slept in their bed. This first case of infection in dogs was reported in the newspaper The Lancet on August 27, 2022.
The dog developed the disease two weeks after his owners
The dog belongs to a couple of men, aged 44 and 27, living together in Paris, but having an “open” romantic relationship. The two men were admitted on June 10, 2022 to the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris, six days after having sex with other partners. One of the patients had injuries to the anus, face, ears and legs, the second had injuries to the legs and back. In addition, both patients also reported suffering from physical fatigue (asthenia), headaches and fever. Monkeypox virus infection was confirmed by PCR in both patients with samples collected from the skin lesions as well as from the pharynx.
Twelve days later, their (previously healthy) dog developed lesions on his abdomen and anus. Virus infection was confirmed by PCR on samples from the animal’s lesions and mouth. The virus was then sequenced to confirm that it was indeed the same virus that infected the dog’s owners. Indeed, the viral sequences were exactly the same on the sequenced part (more than 19,000 base pairs long) for the dog and one of the patients. It was the B.1 strain, which has already infected more than 1,700 people in France as of August 4, 2022, mainly in Paris.
Infected pets could spread the virus
Infection with the virus responsible for monkeypox had already been described in animals (rodents, squirrels and primates), but it had never been observed before in pets. However, the possibility of transmission from humans to dogs had already been raised. A preprint (article not yet peer-reviewed) posted online on August 4, 2022 by doctors at Bichat Hospital in Paris reported the infection of two patients vaccinated against smallpox. In either case, the most likely source of infection would have been a pet. That is, some domesticated animals (such as dogs and cats) could not only be infected with the monkeypox virus, but also be contagious.
For the authors, these cases show that it would be necessary to isolate the pets of people with monkeypox, in order to prevent them from being contaminated and helping to spread the disease. While recalling that the role of transmission of pets for this disease remains to be proven and that more studies are necessary to verify such a hypothesis.