Ebola and the Life & Death of Two Dogs

Bentley is currently being monitored for signs of Ebola

Bentley, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from Dallas, is currently being monitored for signs of Ebola

As a dog lover, two recent stories involving the Ebola virus tugged at my emotions most dearly.  First, we heard of the story from Spain where a mixed-breed dog named Excalibur was euthanized as a preventative measure. Its owner, Teresa Romero Ramosa, was a nurse’s aid who had become infected with the deadly virus after taking care of a priest who died of Ebola in September.

Then most recently in Dallas, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Bentley was put in isolation after its owner, nurse Nina Pham, was also being treated for Ebola. Fortunately, Bentley is being cared for by the Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center and there are no plans for its euthanization while it is being monitored for any signs of the virus.

Reportedly, the Centers for Disease Control is currently working on official guidelines for Ebola cases involving pets. Ebola is known as a zoonotic disease – “spread between animals and humans. These diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that are carried by animals and insect.”

And at this time, there is no evidence Ebola can make a dog sick, nor any confirmed cases known of dogs transmitting the deadly virus to people. [source: CDC.gov]

Excalibur, was euthanized by Spanish authorities as a preventative measure.

Excalibur, a mixed breed from Madrid, was euthanized by Spanish authorities as a preventative measure.

However, while Ebola has been detected in monkeys, bats, pigs, horses and dogs, there is a big difference between carrying the virus and transmitting it.

Recently in an interview with NPR, Amesh Adalja, senior associate at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Health Security and an infectious disease specialist, admitted that there really is not a lot of definitive research known about dogs and Ebola. It is unclear that what we know about the disease as it relates to primates can translate to canines.

So while I am not an expert on Ebola or infectious diseases, I did want want to share a little of what is known about some other not-so-deadly viruses.

One of the most common concerns might be common colds and upper respiratory illnesses. While none of these are transmitted from pets to humans, they can be very contagious to other dogs or cats.

But there are a number of serious illnesses that you can catch from your pet. According to WebMD in an article from Mother Nature Network, there are at least 39 diseases people can catch directly from animals and 42 that people can get eating or touching food or water contaminated with animal feces.

They include:

Only time will tell if the authorities in both Madrid and Dallas made the right call. In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers certainly go out to all those affected. Losing a beloved pet, in any situation, is heartbreaking enough. And while I am always vigilant about providing the best health care for my pets and taking precautions for myself and my family when necessary, the benefits my canines provide far outweigh any risks. And for that I am deeply grateful!

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Good News for Bentley the Ebola Dog