Rosamund Lewis, the World Health Organization’s lead expert on the monkeypox virus, said in an interview that it’s “not surprising” that the first suspected human-to-dog transmission of the virus happened.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Lewis said that human-to-dog monkeypox transmission has been a “theoretical risk” up until now, adding that medical experts also have been watching a monkeypox outbreak linked to prairie dog pets in the U.S.
Lewis noted that the prairie dog outbreak did not have a human-to-animal virus transmission.
“This has not been reported before, and it has not been reported that dogs have been infected before,” Lewis told the Post’s Dan Diamond. “So on a number of levels, this is new information. It’s not surprising information, and it’s something that we’ve been on the watch out for.”
Lewis also said that the public health agency is currently partnering with several animal health organizations to address the issue, advising that pets infected with the virus should be isolated from their families.
“This has been an example of precautionary approach, precautionary messaging, because we didn’t have the information that this had ever happened before. It had not been recorded before,” Lewis added. “But it was a reasonable, cautious message to give. And now we have the first incident where this has actually occurred.”
Lewis’s remarks come after initial reports of the first suspected human-to-dog monkeypox transmission in France, as a dog living with its two male owners began showing signs of symptoms aligned to the virus 12 days after his owners were infected.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a guidance warning about the possible human-to-pet transmission of the monkeypox vaccine, advising pet owners to avoid petting, cuddling, kissing and sharing food with their infected pet.
According to CDC data, there are 12,689 confirmed monkeypox cases in 49 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.