Monkeypox patients advised to stay away from pets for three weeks

While the World Health Organization (WHO) says that monkeypox constitutes a “moderate risk” to overall public health, experts have advised people diagnosed with the infection to avoid contact with pets. The advisory has been issued amid concerns that pets could be infected and further transmit the virus.

The advisory comes as over 200 confirmed cases of the monkeypox virus have been reported from 20 countries of the world. While most monkeypox patients experience only fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue, people with more serious illnesses may develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that can spread to other parts of the body.

This viral infection is caused by a virus found in animals like rodents and monkeys. Usually, it is endemic to central and western Africa, but recently, cases of monkeypox have been seen in countries where the disease is not endemic, including the UK, US, Israel, and France, among others.

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According to the advisory issued by the UK Health Security Agency, pet rodents from the household should be removed for a quarantine period of 21 days to test and remove the infection, especially where there are infected people who have had close, direct, and prolonged contact with the animal or its bedding and/or litter.

Other pet animals like cats and dogs should be kept under household isolation with regular checks to ensure no clinical signs are observed.

WHO expects more cases of monkeypox to be reported as surveillance in endemic and non-endemic countries expands. (File Pic)

“We are continuing to promptly identify further monkeypox cases in England. As a precautionary measure, our health protection teams are advising confirmed cases to avoid contact with any household pets for 21 days,” Wendi Shepherd, the monkeypox incident director at UKHSA told The Guardian .

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Meanwhile, the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs added that someone from the house who is not infected should take care of the pets’ feeding and grooming, but if it is not possible to avoid contact with the pets, the infected person should minimize contact and should wash their hands time to time.

The risk of transmission of monkeypox from humans to their pets is low. However, rodents are at a high risk of getting monkeypox among all other species.

During a public briefing on Friday, the UN health agency said there are still many unanswered questions about what triggered the unprecedented outbreak of monkeypox outside of Africa, but there is no evidence that any genetic changes in the virus are responsible.

Also Read | Will monkeypox cause Covid-like pandemic?

The first sequencing of the virus shows that the strain is not different from the strains we can find in endemic countries and (this outbreak) is probably due more to a change in human behavior,” said Dr. Sylvie Briand, WHO’s director of pandemic and epidemic disease.

The agency added that it expects more cases to be reported as surveillance in endemic and non-endemic countries expands.

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