Spanish health officials obtain order to kill Ebola nurse's dog

The husband of the Spanish nurse who was diagnosed with Ebola is denouncing health officials who told him their dog would have to be killed as a precaution.

In a letter posted to posted to Facebook by Villa Pepa Protective Association, an animal rights group, Javier Limon Romero, the husband of the infected nurse, Teresa Romeo, says an official with the Madrid health department told him "that they have to sacrifice my dog."

"I was asked to give them my consent, but I obviously refused," Javier wrote. "He said he was going to ask for a court order to forcibly enter my home and sacrifice Excalibur."

The husband says he left the dog several buckets of water and food before coming to the hospital, where he has been quarantined along with two others who are being observed for symptoms. Twenty-two other people who came into contact with the nurse are being closely monitored, Spanish health officials said Tuesday.

The nurse had helped treat two missionaries who contracted Ebola in West Africa and were repatriated to Spain last month. Both died shortly after arriving in Madrid. The nurse began feeling ill on Sept. 30 and was diagnosed with Ebola on Monday.

According to the Associated Press, "Madrid's regional government obtained a court order to euthanize and incinerate their pet," saying "available scientific knowledge suggests a risk that the mixed-breed dog could transmit the virus to humans." It's unclear whether they carried out the order.

"It seems unfair," Javier wrote of the euthanasia order. "If you are really worried about this problem I think you can find another type of alternative solution, such as putting the dog in quarantine and observation as it has me. Or maybe you will have to sacrifice me just in case. But of course, with a dog it's easier, it doesn't matter as much."

A Change.org petition to save the dog has already collected more than 97,000 signatures.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 3,400 people have been killed and more than 7,400 infected since the Ebola outbreak began in March.

Animal officials say it's unclear what risk the dog poses.

While no case of Ebola spreading to people from dogs has ever been documented, it's not out of the realm of possibility, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Associated Press.

While some dogs in West Africa have tested positive for the Ebola virus, they showed no signs of being infected, Michael San Filippo, senior media relations specialist for the American Veterinary Medical Association, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last month.

“There is more concern about fruit bats and nonhuman primates,” San Filippo said.

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