How to protect your pets from monkeypox after 1st-known case of human-to-pet transmission

Monkeypox and related viruses are known for their ability to be transmitted between humans and animals, but as it spreads more globally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said pets could be at risk after a dog in France appeared to be contracted with monkeypox in July had infected its owners, according to a report published in The Lancet magazine.

This is the first reported case of human-to-pet transmission of monkeypox.

“We’re still learning what different species of animals might be susceptible to infection, and this new case report is important because it shows that dogs can get the disease,” says Dr. Meghan Davis, associate professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, told ABC News. The CDC says it’s not clear whether other animals, like cats, can develop monkeypox, but recommends that people who contract monkeypox take precautions to protect all animals.

Monkeypox cases continue to rise worldwide and in the United States, where more than 12,000 Americans have been diagnosed.

For anyone recovering at home, it’s important to stay away from other household members — including pets — or take steps to reduce the risk of transmission in the home if isolation isn’t possible, according to the CDC.

Isolate from pets if possible

Monkeypox is transmitted through close contact. In pets, this can be done by cuddling, hugging, kissing, licking, and sharing roosts or food.

If you’ve been diagnosed with monkeypox and haven’t abandoned your pet—meaning you haven’t had contact with the pet since your symptoms began—try finding a friend or neighbor who will take care of your pet. Your isolation phase can last from two to four weeks. Once your skin lesions have healed, clean and disinfect your home, including washing your bedding, before bringing your pet back home.

Understandably, this is not possible for everyone.

Hand hygiene and physical distancing can still help

If your pet stays with you while you’re in isolation, there are still steps you can take to reduce the risk of transmitting monkeypox.

“Keep your pets, just keep your distance — and don’t let your pet share your bed — if you’re diagnosed with or suspect you have monkeypox,” Davis said.

PHOTO: A woman plays with a dog at sunset, November 6, 2021, at a park in Kansas City, Mo.

A woman plays with a dog at sunset, Nov. 6, 2021, at a park in Kansas City, Mo.

Charlie Riedel/AP, file

Follow the advice given when isolating at home with COVID-19, wash your hands every time you touch your pet, wear a mask and try to keep your skin lesions covered. Keep your distance and do not let your pet get caught in contaminated clothing, towels or sheets.

“Pets that have had close contact with a symptomatic person with monkeypox should be kept indoors and away from other animals and people for 21 days after the last contact,” according to CDC guidelines.

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If your pet shows signs of monkeypox infection after exposure, call your veterinarian and try to get your pet tested for monkeypox

While we don’t understand all of the symptoms of monkeypox in animals, symptoms could include lethargy, loss of appetite, cough, runny nose, fever, and pimple-like or blister-like skin rashes.

If a pet becomes ill, try to keep it separate from other pets or people in the home—especially anyone in the household who is pregnant, immunocompromised, or has a child.

Continue to take care of your pet, don’t abandon or put it to sleep

Exposure to or diagnosis of monkeypox is not a reason to abandon or euthanize your pet, the CDC said.

The CDC also recommends that people should not put a mask on their pets or clean or bathe their pets with chemical sanitizers such as alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or hand sanitizer. Wash your hands frequently and clean up contaminated bedding or other pet materials according to the CDC’s instructions if your pet gets monkeypox.

Dispose of pet poo quickly — don’t just leave it on the ground or in the backyard — in a sealed, dedicated trash can, and contact your local health department for more information on how to deal with the contaminated waste.

dr Jade A. Cobern, MD, is part of the ABC News Medical Unit and a general preventive medicine officer at Johns Hopkins.

ABC News’ Sony Salzman and Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report.

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